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View from space: Lightning strike over Saudi Arabia

NASA releases stunning image of electric storm over the Arabian Gulf

Published: Updated:

NASA released a stunning image of a lightning strike over Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as seen by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

The image, taken last December but released now, offers an incredible view of the white-flash of the electric storm, with city lights visible amid heavy cloud elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula.

The U.S. based agency obtained the images from a Firestation instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in August 2013.

The Firestation observes around 50 lightening strokes every day, and looks for brief bursts of gamma rays, linked to nuclear fusion or exploding stars, said the agency’s website.

Scientists have also been interested in discovering the terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), which trigger lightening within a thunderstorm, added the website.

“The electron and gamma-ray energies in TGFs are usually the domain of nuclear explosions, solar flares, and supernovas. What a surprise to find them shooting out of the cold upper atmosphere of our own planet,” Doug Rowland, the principal investigator for Firestation and a space physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said.

“The fact that TGFs exist at all is amazing,” he added.

NASA plans to install another lightening tracker to the ISS in the coming years, stated the agency on its website.

Residents in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and other GCC countries have experienced bad weather including heavy rains in some countries late Tuesday, local media reported.

In the UAE, the national weather bureau warned residents about moderate to heavy rains, hailstorms and thunders, which are expected to last for a few days, UAE-based Gulf News reported.