Jets of lighting can shoot upward toward space, reaching distances up to 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. Apparently Mother Nature has a grudge against space.
Until recently this amazing natural phenomenon was largely a mystery to scientists. In September of 2010 researchers were able to closely observe two enormous lightning jets and mapped the electrical-charge imbalances that birthed this rare form of lightening.
Traditionally lightning travels from a negative to a positive area, and discharges within the same cloud, in another cloud, on the ground or in the upp atmosphere. These massive lightning jets are believed to be failed “bolts from the blue.” These “bolts from the blue,” are the result of an elongated spark called a lightning leader failing to find an area in the cloud with enough electrical field to discharge through. The lightning leader then punches through the side of the cloud and hits the ground.
However, the observed lightning jets differ in that the lightning leader punching through the side of the cloud fails to do so, and produces a secondary leader that shoots through the top of the thundercloud, producing the giant jets of lightning.
Now that the scientists know how this rare bit of natural electrical phenomena works, they hope to be able to identify more and more instances. I thought cloud to ground lightning was cool. Apparently cloud to space trumps everything.