Astronaut Thomas Pesquet has a fanbase of his own! The European Space Agency astronaut is perched on the International Space Station (ISS). And from there, he clicks beautiful pics of Earth and space. His posts on his Instagram account reveal wonders of our own planet and space alike.
On October 8, Pesquet posted an image in which part of night side of Earth was visible. The land could be seen lit up with cities and roads and more. While this alone very much made for a beautiful image, a certain detail in the photo was unmissable.
Prominent among the yellow lights was a blue glow just near the centre of the image. It resembled movie depiction of a blast taking place. The bluish hue appears mysterious and certainly piques interest.
Pesquet explains in his post that the blue glow is of a ‘…thunder strike with a ‘transient luminous event’…’ The phenomenon, he says has taken place in upper atmosphere.”A single frame from a timelapse over Europe, showing a thunder strike with a ‘transient luminous event’ in the upper atmosphere!! This is a very rare occurrence and we have a facility outside Europe’s Columbus laboratory dedicated to observing these flashes of light. The Space Station is extremely well suited for this observatory as it flies over the equator where there are more thunderstorms. What is fascinating about this lightning is that just a few decades ago they had been observed anecdotally by pilots and scientists were not convinced they actually existed. Fast forward a few years and we can confirm elves, and sprites are very real and could be influencing our climate too! My friend Andreas Mogensen has a large part to play in this story, he was the first to capture them from space (in only ten days on the Space Station he did all this, legend!) proving the worth of having a facility to monitor the flashes!” says Pesquet in his Instagram post.