What is Red sprite?

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What is Red sprite? Blog Image


Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut photographed an uncommon occurrence termed a red sprite.

About Red sprite

  • A red sprite represents an extraordinary meteorological phenomenon categorized as a Transient Luminous Event (TLE).
  • Sprite is also an acronym for Stratospheric/mesospheric Perturbations Resulting from Intense Thunderstorm Electrification. 
  • Occasionally dubbed red lightning, it occurs above thunderclouds at altitudes between 40 and 80 kilometres (25 - 50 miles) above the Earth's surface.
  • Lightning flashes normally go downward from the clouds to the ground.
  • However, a sprite goes in the other direction, going into the atmosphere, a bit like backwards lightning.
  • It happens incredibly quickly - in about a millisecond - which can make it tricky for scientists to capture and observe them.
  • Also, as the red sprites form above thunder clouds, they are not easily studied from Earth and are mostly seen from space.

Other Transient Luminous Event

  • Blue jets: These are quite faint and blue in colour and so this can make them tricky to spot. It is similar to red sprite.
  • Elves: These are a type of TLE which form expanding ring shaped glows. They take place around 100 km (about 62 miles) above the ground over thunderstorms and happen so quickly they can't be seen with the naked eye.

Q1) What is stratosphere?

The stratosphere is a layer of Earth's atmosphere. It is the second layer of the atmosphere as you go upward. The troposphere, the lowest layer, is right below the stratosphere. The next higher layer above the stratosphere is the mesosphere.

Source: Astronaut Captures Image Of Mysterious "Red Sprite" High Above The Earth