Tiny “Firefly” satellite may solve mystery about lightning
I love evidence, and what's better than a tiny satellite the size of a half gallon milk carton?
When thunderstorms happen, powerful electric fields stretch upward for miles, into the upper atmosphere. These electric fields accelerate free electrons, whirling them to speeds that are close to the speed of light.
The 'Firefly' CubeSat will fly through thunderstorms and lightning. Credit: NASA
When these ultra-high-speed electrons collide with molecules in the air, they release high-energy gamma rays as well as more electrons, starting a cascade of electrons and TGFs.
"Gamma rays are thought to be emitted by electrons traveling at or near the speed of light when they're slowed down by interactions with atoms in the upper atmosphere," says Moretto Jorgensen. "TGFs are among our atmosphere's most interesting phenomena."
Meteorologists estimate that, at any given moment, some 1,800 thunderstorms are in progress over Earth's surface, and about 18 million a year around the world. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 to 125,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States each year.
Read more: http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-1/Thunderstorms.html#ixzz2GwbiVZkd
That's a lot of particle acceleration, antimatter and gamma rays going on.