Data from the International Space Station confirms: Lightning is insane

Image of a heavily branched lightning strike.

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Lightning is such a common phenomenon that people often overlook
just how powerful it is (provided it
doesn’t hit you
, obviously). But over the past decade, research
has gradually revealed just how extreme lightning is. This everyday
phenomenon is powerful enough to
produce antimatter
and
transform atoms
, leaving a radioactive cloud in its wake.
Understanding how all of this happens, however, is a real
challenge, given just how quickly multiple high-energy events take
place.

Now, researchers have used an instrument attached to the
International Space Station to track the physical processes that
are triggered by a lightning strike. The work tracks how energy
spreads out from the site of a lightning bolt into the ionosphere
via an electromagnetic pulse.

Lightning from space

The work relies on a piece of hardware called the
Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor
(ASIM), an ESA-built
instrument attached to its lab module on the International Space
Station. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, tying together two
X-ray/gamma-ray detectors, three UV detectors, two
optical-wavelength light meters, and two high-speed cameras.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Data from the International Space Station confirms: Lightning is insane