Looking down into the throat of a lightning storm

Contributed by
Jun 15, 2012
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Traveling over west Africa at 8 kilometers per second in the International Space Station, astronaut André Kuipers took this eerie and lovely picture of a storm cloud just as it was illuminated by a lightning stroke:

[Click to enlighten yourself.]

Wow. This is easily as cool as another amazing shot of a lightning-illuminated cloud over Brazil taken from space in 2011, too.

And hmmmm. Scientists have detected gamma rays -- extremely high-energy light -- presumably generated by lightning storms and shooting straight up into space. I hope nothing makes André stressed any time soon. The ISS is no place for him to Hulk out!

[P.S. Before anyone asks -- and as much as I hate to explain a joke, I guess I really should in this case -- the gamma rays emitted by lightning storms are extremely weak, and not a danger to the astronauts.]

Credit: ESA/NASA


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