Lightning illuminates the area it strikes on Earth but the flash can be seen from space, too. This image was taken from 400 km above Earth in 2012 by an astronaut on the International Space Station travelling at 28 800 km/h. At these distances a camera flash is pointless to take night-time images of Earth, but our planet moves by so quickly images can end up being blurred.
ESA’s Nightpod camera aid compensates for the motion of the Station, allowing for crystal-clear night images such as these. The target stays firmly centred in the frame, so the final image is in focus. Astronauts can set up the device to take ultra-sharp images automatically using off-the-shelf cameras.
A short video timelapse of this sequence can be found here showing the thunderstorm passing underneath the International Space Station.