Science Nugget: Lightning Signature Could Help Reveal the Solar System's Origins
Every second, lightning flashes some 50 times on Earth. Together these discharges coalesce and get stronger, creating electromagnetic waves circling around Earth, to create a beating pulse between the ground and the lower ionosphere, about 60 miles up in the atmosphere. This electromagnetic signature, known as Schumann Resonance, had only been observed from Earth's surface until, in 2011, scientists discovered they could also detect it using NASA's Vector Electric Field Instrument (VEFI) aboard the U.S. Air Force's Communications/Navigation Outage Forecast System (C/NOFS) satellite.
In a paper published on May 1 in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers describe how this new technique could be used to study other planets in the solar system as well, and even shed light on how the solar system formed.