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ILAN-ES - Global observations of thunderstorms, lightning and TLEs (Transient Luminous Events) correlated with international ground campaigns

Prof. Yoav Yair, Reichman University
Prof. Colin Price, Tel Aviv University

Thousands of electric storms take place at any given moment around the globe at a rate of approximately 50 strikes per second. The electric storms usually occur together with stormy weather events such as hail, floods and tornados, and they have an effect on the atmosphere’s chemical composition.

The ILAN-ES experiment deals with observations of electric storms from the Space Station and optical phenomena in the upper atmosphere, which are related to exceptionally intense lightning. These phenomena are known as sprites. They occur at heights of 50 to 90 km. in the mesosphere and in the stratosphere. The observations from space will be joined by measurements from a network of cameras in different places around the world, including 11 schools in Israel, 6 in Africa and in Hong Kong. Research groups from Japan, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Denmark, United States and Brazil will be taking part in the observations and they will be joined by amateurs from Puerto Rico, central Europe and South-America. In addition, data will be collected from global systems and from global networks in various ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, which track electric storms to map the more powerful lightning.

Daily forecasts of the storm location will be sent to the International Space Station from the team of scientists, which will guide Eytan in which direction to point the camera, similar to the MEIDEX experiment on the Columbia Space Shuttle mission in 2003, which was carried out by the late Colonel Ilan Ramon.

The research is intended to improve our understanding of the electric processes in the atmosphere and to find the link between them and the climate changes which are currently unfolding.

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“Above us only sky” Ilan Ramon, RIP, 2003

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