NASA GHRC Collaboration between NASA MSFC and The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Lightning & Atmospheric Electricity Research

Lightning Home

The Lightning Team

A Lightning Primer

File Cabinet and Bookshelf


Global Lightning Image
Global Lightning Image
Global lightning strikes from January 1998 to present day from the NASA/MSFC Lightning Imaging Sensor

Space Research and Observations

Space based sensors can provide us with literally several times more data than ground based sensors. Most ground based and airborne sensors are only capable of detecting cloud to ground lightning, which is known to make up only about 25% of total lighting activity. This is further limited by the facts that ground sensors can only detect activity over land, and airborne sensors have a limited observation time. Thus, with these sensors alone, we are incapable of studying lightning activity over the two-thirds of the earth that is covered by ocean.

A space based sensor can detect lightning activity over land and sea, 24 hours a day, and can detect all forms of lightning. Thus, such sensors will allow the development of the first global database of lightning activity. Such information can be used for severe storm detection and analysis, and lightning-atmosphere interaction studies.

Click to visit Lightning Imaging Sensor
LIS is a space based instrument used to detect the distribution and variability of total lightning that occurs in the tropical regions of the globe.

Click to visit Optical Transient Detector
OTD is a space based instrument used to detect the distribution and variability of total lightning.

Click to visit Lightning Mapper Sensor
The LMS program is intended to place a sensor, capable of continuously mapping lightning discharges during both day and night, into a geostationary orbit.

Click to visit Space Shuttle Experiments
The Space Shuttle has been used as a platform for lightning studies from the beginning of the shuttle program.

Click to visit Operational Linescan System
Maps of global lighting activity derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS) sensor.





Other Data Sources

RSS feed GHRC Facebook GHRC Twitter

NASA Official:
Rahul Ramachandran

Website maintained by the

If you have trouble viewing or
navigating this page, please contact
GHRC User Services

NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices

    The GHRC is a member of the ICSU World Data System