Lightning storm looks spectacular from space, ESA video shows

The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued a video showing a massive cloud with a lightning storm inside it taken from the International Space Station (ISS) while it was orbiting Earth 400 kilometers (250 miles) away.

ESA turned the 49 images taken in 2012 by an astronaut into an amazing time-lapse video footage.

In the video you can see a massive cloud with bright flashes that appear at random at various points. Each flash has a different brightness, size and shape.

Lightning from Space

This photograph was taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station in 2012 from 400km above Earth. (Image: European Space Station)

To be able to take such images travelling at 28,800 km/h (17,398 mph) with very little light is extremely difficult. At such a distance a camera flash is pointless to take night-time images of our planet.

A high-tech device called NightPod helps the ISS cameras keep their target firmly centered in frame so that the final image is in focus.


The European Space Agency said regarding NightPod:

“The steady progression of frames seen in this video with the target staying in centre frame would be nearly impossible without Nightpod.”

What is NightPod?

NightPod is a state-of-the-art tracking device that helps cameras take better photographs of Earth from space, especially in very low-light conditions.

The camera aid compensates for the motion of the space station.

NASA said the following about NightPod:

“The device (NightPod) compensates for ISS movement allowing a camera fitted to the device a longer exposure time on fixed targets on Earth.”

“This is not only helpful for taking images of Earth for education, promotion or research activities, it also holds the potential for use on orbital craft on future missions around other planets and planetary bodies.”

Video – Lightning storm filmed from ISS