The two cameras of the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor, also known as the Space Storm Hunter, captured the strong signature of lightning with unprecedented accuracy 400 kilometres above Earth. As the International Space Station flew over the Indonesian coast of Sumatra on an April night, lightning bursts from a thunderstorm reached the upper layers of the atmosphere.
Even with the clouds partly blocking the lightning, the instruments show powerful electrical discharges high in the atmosphere. Scientists believe it is an elve. Elves are the highest of all the ‘transient luminous events’ known to date. In the blink of an eye concentric rings appear as a dim, expanding glow hundreds of kilometres wide formed by electrons colliding and excited nitrogen molecules.