One of the most promising scientific applications for reusable suborbital spacecraft is the study of the upper atmosphere. In recent years, atmospheric researchers have discovered a wide range of electrical phenomena that we previously unsuspected. These have been given exotic names like red sprites, blue jets, blue starters, ELVEs, halos, trolls, and gnomes. There may be others we have not yet discovered. We will learn a lot more when we have an affordable way to access the “ignore-osphere” on a reliable, repeatable basis.

One of the latest additions to this electrical menagerie: NASA has discovered dark lightning.

Written by Astro1 on January 8th, 2013 , Atmospheric Science

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