An astronaut captured the first video from the International Space Station (ISS) of mysterious electrical discharges dubbed “blue jets.”
NASA is cooperating with the European Space Agency (ESA) to take pictures and video of the jets from the ISS using special cameras. The strange flashes can be more than half a mile wide and typically occur about 11 to 12 miles above the ground. They appear to be a strange weather phenomenon that hasn’t been fully explained.
“It is not every day that you get to capture a new weather phenomenon on film, so I am very pleased with the result – but even more so that researchers will be able to investigate these intriguing thunderstorms in more detail soon,” Andreas Mogensen, an ESA astronaut who filmed the jets from the ISS, said in a press statement.
Satellites have previously attempted to study the blue jets, but their viewing angle was not ideal. The ISS sits in a much lower orbit around Earth than most satellites, making it an ideal place to study the jets.
NASA suspects that the blue jets are examples of a little-understood part of our atmosphere interacting with electrical storms. The research has implications for how our atmosphere protects Earth from radiation.