Astronaut Photo Captures Elusive, Strange Lightning
by OurAmazingPlanet Staff
Date: 10 July 2012 Time: 11:05 AM ET
A strange type of lightning called a sprite that occurs above thunderstorms and extends to the edge of space was photographed by an astronaut aboard the space station on April 30th, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory
Near the edge of space, sprites and elves dance, but there's nothing mythical about them.
Sprites and elves are reddish, ultrafast bursts of electricity that are born near the edge of space, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) up in the atmosphere. Sprites are jellyfish-shaped, starting as balls of light that stream downward, whereas elves take the shape of ring-like halos.
One sprite was captured with a digital camera by Expedition 31 astronauts aboard the International Space Station as it traveled over Myanmar on April 30.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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