Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) noticed a strange blue glow over Europe earlier last month. According to Thomas Pesquet, it was a so-called “transient luminous event” (TLE), for which ionospheric lightning occurs above the altitude of normal lightning is responsible.
“This is a very rare case and we have a facility outside the European Columbus Laboratory that observes these flashes of light.” said Pesquet on Flickru.
One of the benefits of staying on the ISS is that certain atmospheric events can be studied much better than would be possible from Earth. Some of them use names inspired by the fantasy genre (eg “elves” or “elves”) and can even affect our climate.
“What is fascinating about these lightning bolts is that they were unofficially observed by pilots just a few decades ago and scientists were not convinced that they did exist,” Pesquet said.
“Fast forward a few years and we can confirm that both elves and elves are very real and could also affect our climate!” He added.