Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, began studying lightning from space in 1997, with a sophisticated piece of flight hardware called a Lightning Imaging Sensor launched into space as part of NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). The sensor had a three-year baseline mission and delivered data used to improve weather forecasts. It continues to operate successfully aboard the TRMM satellite today. Now these scientists are going to launch a second lightning sensor to space aboard a SpaceX rocket, this time to the International Space Station. The flight is scheduled for early 2016. Once mounted to ISS, the lightning sensor will have at least a two-year baseline mission.
Lightning, seen from space
NASA routinely studies lightning space to aid in weather forecasting. A new instrument is being planning for a 2016 launch.