An astronaut and his new camera will peer into the heart of thunderstorms to learn more about their structure.
European Space Agency Astronaut Andreas Mogensen plans a whirlwind follow-up to his 2015 research on planet Earth International Space Station. Mogensen recently arrived at the orbital complex for a six-month mission, and will once again be looking forward to thunderstorms Land. Among the elusive phenomena he hopes to see are “blue jets” (inverted lightning) and “red sprites” (secretions in a layer of Earth’s atmosphereKnown as the mesosphere.)
“There is still a lot to understand exactly how they form and how they evolve,” Mogensen said He told Space.com in Julybefore taking off on August 25 SpaceX Crew 7. He added that this would be “one of the most exciting studies” for the research team, as its 2015 photos of the bluebirds made the covers of both Science and Nature, the most prestigious journals in the scientific community.
Related: A SpaceX Crew-7 astronaut plans to take photos of the aurora borealis on the International Space Station
Lightning has been captured by cameras in space before thanks to powerful satellites, examples being the US GOES series (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites) and the new European 3G series of Meteosat. But a human-led study allows for more flexibility, as it is easier to immediately reassign Mogensen when storms appear, assuming he’s not busy with something that can’t be moved on the schedule.
There are two other things working in Mogensen’s favor. His mission in 2015 lasted only 10 days. This time, he is expected to stay inside space For at least six months. The new camera he carries with him, called the Davis Camera, is also new: It takes up to 100,000 images per second based on the events it sees.
The new camera “gives scientists a way to study the formation and evolution of these types of lightning in more detail. There is still a lot to understand exactly how they form and how they evolve,” Mogensen said.
The camera is neuromorphic, which means it uses a different shooting method than standard cameras. “Instead of capturing images by collecting light through a camera shutter, the camera measures differences in light and uses that information to create an image,” ESA officials said. he wrote in a statement Thursday (September 7).
“A person sitting completely still in a bright room will not be recorded on a Davis camera, because the light does not change. If the person starts to move, a Davis camera will record the change in light and produce a video.”
Olivier Chanrion, lead author of Show April 2023 In the study conducted by the European Geophysical Union in Vienna and online, he said looking at lightning also provides a unique perspective on human activities. Climate change.
“The interaction between these lightning events and the upper atmosphere is not fully understood,” Chanrion said in the same statement. He is also a senior researcher at DTU Space, the largest space research institute in Denmark.
Chanrion added that the new study provides “the opportunity to analyze and measure their impact (thunderstorms), and verify the extent of their connection to the overtaking of thundercloud tops that pump greenhouse gases and aerosols into the stratosphere.”