Lightning From Space!

by Jason Major on June 11, 2012

Photo of Earthly lightning seen from orbit by ESA astronaut André Kuipers

Here’s an amazing shot of a flash of lightning within storm clouds over west Africa, captured from orbit by ESA astronaut André Kuipers aboard the ISS.

Lightning is a common sight from Space Station, creating a constant light show for the astronaut and cosmonaut crew members. On average, lightning strikes the ground somewhere on Earth 100 times each second, and there are 5 to 10 times as many cloud-to-cloud flashes as there are ground strikes. That adds up to about 40 to 80 million flashes of lightning every day around the world! Considering that the ISS orbits Earth 16 times a day — and from quite a high viewpoint — it stands to reason that lightning is spotted quite often.

So although it may not be rare, lightning still makes for dramatic photos — especially to those of us here on the ground!

For more information on André and his ongoing long-duration PromISSe mission, visit the ESA site here.

Image credit: ESA/NASA

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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