Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

NASA to launch sequel to successful Lightning Study Mission
by Staff Writers
Huntsville AL (SPX) Feb 17, 2017

International Space Station crew members capture a lightning flash over the Pacific Ocean at night. Image courtesy NASA.

A hit Hollywood film often leads to a sequel. Sometimes those movies do well, but rarely will they eclipse the original. Undaunted by those odds, NASA is set to reboot a successful study of Earth's lightning from space - this time from the unique vantage point of the International Space Station (ISS).

A team of Earth scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville have high hopes for a follow-up mission for the agency's Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) first launched into space in the late-1990s. Now, an identical LIS - built as a back-up - is headed to the space station for a two-year mission to probe the mysteries of lightning and its connections to other atmospheric phenomena.

The LIS is a sophisticated lightning research instrument designed to measure the amount, rate and optical characteristics of lightning over Earth. Mounted externally on the station in an Earth-viewing position, the spare LIS will build on the foundation of space-based lightning observations begun by its predecessor.

The original LIS was launched in 1997 as part of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). LIS on TRMM was an outstanding success, delivering an impressive 17 years of lightning observations. But the TRMM satellite's orbit only carried LIS over locations on Earth between 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south latitudes. So it gave lots of data for the tropics, but it could not observe far enough toward the poles to cover the more temperate zones, including more heavily populated areas away from the equator.

"The LIS used in this follow-on mission is an exact duplicate of the sensor used on TRMM," said Richard Blakeslee, science lead for the LIS at NASA Marshall. "But it will sample lightning over a wider geographical area."

The orbiting laboratory's higher inclination provides the opportunity to observe farther into the Northern and Southern hemispheres - all the area between 56 degrees north and 56 degrees south latitude.

Another advantage of using the space station for LIS observations is the capability to get lightning data downlinked in real-time and into the hands of scientists and other interested users. This data can be used for research or operational applications in data-sparse regions - over the oceans, for example - to provide situational awareness for weather forecasts, advisories and warnings. The real-time LIS data will be directly accessible to users around the world through a partnership with NASA's Short Term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center in Huntsville.

LIS on the space station will also provide important cross-sensor calibrations, especially for the new Geostationary Lightning Mapper, an instrument based on LIS design heritage that is flying on NOAA's recently launched GOES-16 satellite. Cross-calibrating LIS data with other space-based lightning and weather instruments may create a longer lightning data record to improve our knowledge of severe weather formation and long-term changes in lightning distributions.

The idea for the original version of the sensor was the result of a meeting of atmospheric scientists convened by NASA in 1979. They were exploring the idea of using lightning observations from space as a remote-sensing tool to study weather and climate. TRMM was the first mission that documented a detailed global lightning climatology for the tropics from space.

"The space-based vantage point allows us to observe all forms of lightning over land and sea, 24 hours a day," said Blakeslee. "The orbit of the space station will allow LIS to look at lightning distributions over different times of the day, further enhancing our knowledge of the complicated dynamics of lightning."

Data from LIS will also help scientists examine the relationship between lightning and severe weather. Understanding the processes that cause lightning and the connections between lightning and subsequent severe weather events like convective storms and tornadoes is a key to improving weather predictions and saving life and property, in this country and around the globe.

The LIS is scheduled for launch to the space station this month on the tenth SpaceX cargo resupply mission. The sensor will fly as hosted payload on the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program-Houston 5 (STP-H5) mission. STP-H5 is integrated and flown under the management and direction of the DOD's STP.

From the pioneering scientists who ushered in a new era of space-based lightning detection, this is one sequel that just may be scientific box-office gold.

Beijing MST Radar detection of the lower, middle and upper atmosphere
Beijing, China (SPX) Feb 14, 2017
Beijing MST (Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere) Radar is one of the largest facilities within the Chinese Meridian Project (a chain of diverse ground-based remote sensing facilities for monitoring and forecasting the space environment), and is one of only two domestic MST radars. It was built by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and is located at th ... read more

Related Links
Earth at NASA
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Russia to carry out tourist flights around Moon by 2022

NASA selects proposals for first-ever Space Technology Research Institutes

NASA saves energy and water with new modular supercomputing facility

Russian cargo ship docks with space station

SpaceX cargo ship arrives at space station

Sounding Rocket Flies in Alaska to Study Auroras

Russian Aviation Company S7 Group restructures

Energia to make 2 modifications of Federatsiya spaceship

Opportunity leaving crater rim for the Plains of Meridiani

NASA mulls putting astronauts on deep space test flight

Scientists say Mars valley was flooded with water not long ago

Researchers pinpoint watery past on Mars

China to launch first high-throughput communications satellite in April

Chinese cargo spacecraft set for liftoff in April

China looks to Mars, Jupiter exploration

China's first cargo spacecraft to leave factory

Kacific places order with Boeing for a high throughput satellite

ESA affirms Open Access policy for images, videos and data

Iridium Announces Target Date for Second Launch of Iridium NEXT

Italy, Russia working closely on Mars exploration, Earth monitoring satellites

Terahertz chips a new way of seeing through matter

New metamaterial is first to achieve performance as predicted by theoretical bounds

Designing new materials from 'small' data

Raytheon gets contract for Silent Knight radar systems

Does Pluto Have The Ingredients For Life?

From Rocks, Evidence of a 'Chaotic Solar System'

Ultracool Dwarf and the Seven Planets

Seven Earth-like planets discovered around single star

Europa Flyby Mission Moves into Design Phase

Juno to remain in current orbit at Jupiter

NASA receives science report on Europa lander concept

New Horizons Refines Course for Next Flyby

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement