Lightning from above


From the right angle, a thunderstorm makes Earth look like an alien world.


The view from above: a thunderstorm in Bolivia, seen from the International Space Station.
The view from above: a thunderstorm in Bolivia, seen from the International Space Station.
NASA

Across the atmosphere of Earth, lightning flashes about 50 times per second. That’s 4.3 million times a day and roughly 1.5 billion times a year. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have a unique perspective from which to view it.

The photo above, taken by an astronaut in 2011, shows a lightning flash beneath a thunderhead on January 9, 2011, from a bit to the side and a long, long way up.

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