NASA has released still images of a red sprite which Expedition 31 Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured April 30, 2012:
"'Red sprites are short-lived, red flashes that occur about 80 kilometers (50 miles) up in the atmosphere. With long, vertical tendrils like a jellyfish, these electrical discharges can extend 20 to 30 kilometers up into the atmosphere and are connected to thunderstorms and lightning."
These images of a red sprite were captured with a digital camera by Expedition 31 astronauts on the International Space Station as they traveled southeast from central Myanmar (Burma) to just north of Malaysia. The still images are part of a time-lapse movie collected from 13:41 to 13:47 Universal Time on April 30, 2012. View the footage here.
The sprite occurs about 6 seconds into the video, above a bright, wide lightning flash in the upper right quadrant.
Red sprites are difficult to observe because they last for just a few milliseconds and occur above thunderstorms-meaning they are usually blocked from view on the ground by the very clouds that produce them. They send pulses of electrical energy up toward the edge of space-the electrically charged layer known as the ionosphere-instead of down to Earth's surface. They are rich with radio noise, and can sometimes occur in bunches.
For decades, pilots reported seeing ephemeral flashes above storms, but it was not until the 1990s that scientists were able to verify the existence of these electrical discharges. A sprite was first photographed by accident from an airplane in 1989, and observers on the space shuttle captured several more images with low-light cameras in 1990 and in subsequent missions. Viewers on the ground can occasionally photograph sprites by looking out on a thunderstorm in the distance, often looking out from high mountainsides over storms in lower plains."
Information and photo courtesy of NASA.
Severe thunderstorms with the risk of a few tornadoes will advance eastward across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest into Friday.
A dangerous outbreak of severe storms will strike the northern High Plains and Canadian Prairies on Wednesday.
Join us on Thursday for AccuWeather LIVE as we will discuss the debate of climate change and hurricane frequency and the top five things you need to know about summer weather.
A tornado touched down at Denver International Airport as a severe weather system moved through the area.
A brief synopsis of the top five worst weather events of last summer.
Warmth is forecast to build over much of the eastern half of the nation by July, with Alaska of all places helping out.
3-4" rains common across the state.
Custer Creek, MT (1938)
Cloudburst; 48 killed in a train wreck.
Amwell, NJ (1742)
A fatal hailstorm and severe thunderstorm containing hail 4" in diameter killed one child and did considerable damage to crops.