An electrical anomaly, previously thought dubious, has been captured on video by NASA researchers. Gigantic upward-shooting flashes of light, that come from the top of storm clouds, were captured on video during summer floods caused by a July 8, 1993 thunderstorm over Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.
According to Eugene Wescott and Davis Sentman, both of NASA, the lights were estimated as being 25 miles tall and 6 miles wide. "They appear brightest where they top out; typically about 40 miles high," said Wescott, adding, ̉so you have the jellyfish body at the top with tentacles trailing down."
A low-light-level camera in a NASA DC-8, operated by a team from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, recorded 19 brief flashes.
Amateurs have been reporting the phenomena since 1886, but scientists have not until recently taken these accounts seriously.
The present photographs, taken at 1/30 of a second, have proved the anomaly. Wescott noted that airborne team members missed it when aloft, but spotted it when studying their video footage. The intensity of the flashes is similar to an aurora. Now the scientists are trying to figure out its chemical effects on the upper atmosphere, including possible dangers to the ozone layer from electricity which is dimmer, more diffuse and broader than normal lightning.
Source: New Scientist, 10/16/93; Striking News from Polyphaser, February 1994