Scientists Capture Rare Photographs of Red Lightning
Jason Ahrns, a graduate student at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and other scientists from the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Lewis Collegeall part of a project sponsored by the National Science Foundationhave been on a mission. This summer, the group has taken to the skies in the National Center for Atmospheric Researchs Gulfstream V research aircraft, logging a total of 30 hours over multiple flights, in search of sprites.
Sprites, also known as red lightning, are electrical discharges that appear as bursts of red light above clouds during thunderstorms.Because the weather phenomenon is so fleeting (sprites flash for just milliseconds) and for the most part not visible from the ground, they are difficult to observe and even more difficult to photograph, rather like the mischievous air spirits of the fantasy realm that theyre named for. Ahrns and his colleagues, however, have captured extremely rare photographs of the red lightning, using DSLR cameras and high speed video cameras positioned in the planes window. The researchers hope to learn more about the physical and chemical processes that give rise to sprites and other forms of upper atmospheric lightning.
Read the full article at: smithsonianmag.com
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