Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), posted a stunning image of a strange type of upward-going beam called a blue starter.
Pesquet took the photo on September 9 from the ISS while orbiting 400 kilometers above Earth and recently shared it on Flickr.
The blue glow was seen over Europa during a thunderstorm and is considered a “transient light event”, also known as upper atmosphere lightning.
These bright and unpredictable flashes of light typically form on our planet about 60 miles above major thunderstorms, creating flashes that last only milliseconds.
Through Flickr, the astronaut wrote: “A single frame from a time lapse over Europa, showing thunder with a transient light event in the upper atmosphere. This is very rare and we have a facility outside of the European Columbus laboratory dedicated to observing these flashes of light.”.
“The fascinating thing about this lightning bolt is that only a few decades ago pilots had observed them anecdotally and scientists were not convinced that they really existed.”, He counted.
[ Blue Origin lleva al espacio con éxito al Capitán Kirk, William Shatner ]
The ISS, an ideal place to capture photos
The ISS, which is 357.5 feet wide and 739.4 feet long, completes a full orbit around Earth once every 90 minutes. Pesquet explained that the International Space Station is extremely suitable for capturing shots of this type, as it flies over the equator where there are more thunderstorms.
Many transient light events that occur on Earth during thunderstorms are described using a variety of fantastic names, including elves, sprites, and trolls, but these are acronyms for technical terms, the Daily Mail reports in its report.
On Earth, elves, goblins, and trolls appear reddish in color due to their interaction with nitrogen in the upper atmosphere.
Although Pesquet did not specifically indicate what type of transient light event it was, it could be a blue burst, a bolt of lightning that extends upward through the stratosphere.
It could be a potential blue start, a phenomenon closely related to blue jets, except for the fact that they are shorter and brighter.
In this regard, Dr. Victor P. Pasko, associate professor of electrical engineering at Penn State, pointed out: “Blue starters seem to be blue jets that never make it”.
Finally, Thomas Pesquet concluded in his publication: “Fast forward a few years and we can confirm that the elves and sprites are very real and could also be influencing our weather.”.