T.L.E - Transient Luminous Events

There are high-altitude lightning flashes rising above thuderstorm coulds up to the ionosphere (100km). These beams of light are called T.L.E. Lasting less than a second, these phenomena aren't easily visible with the naked eye. But astronauts of the International Space Station have seen them while being just above a violent storm.

Summary of Sprites, Jets and Elves

These discharges produce a much different effects from the usual lightning discharges to the ground. Little is known about them due to the fact that they occur between 50 and 100 km above the earth's surface, too low for most satellites and too high for aircrafts.

The first image of a red sprite was accidently obtained in 1989 by Franz At the beginning of the 1990s, about 20 images have been collected from space shuttle by Vaughan and Boeck.

many images of blue jets have been taken from aircrafts (Wescott.. Blue jets appear to emerge directly from the tops of clouds and shoot upward in narrow cones through the stratosphere. Their upward speed has been measured to be about 100 km/s.

First eyewitness reports came as early as 1895 but they were only taken seriously in the 1990s.

Scientists think that as the air is thinner at this altitude, the electrical fields are so strong that they can ionize the air moleculeslike neon gas inside in a neon light. These are called red sprites because nitrogen (one of the main constituent of air), glows red.

As the red sprite reaches the ionosphere, it often produces a diffuse glow called a sprite halo.