Getting your money’s worth

Roamy here. One of the scientific instruments NASA and NOAA are working on for the GOES-R weather satellite is a Global Lightning Mapper, looking at lightning strikes and what kind of storms produce more lightning. There’s also some concern that more aerosols (very small solid or liquid particles in the air, like fog or smoke) help create more lightning, and that lightning plays a significant role in generating nitrogen oxide. This feeds into the climate modeling work.
Well, I was happily surprised to learn that the Global Lightning Mapper is building on the technology used in the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS), which is part of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. LIS was planned to have a 3-year lifetime and is still operating after 14 years. Some articles about LIS are here and here and explain the mission better than I could. I’m happy to know it’s still working and providing useful data after all these years.

Lightning strikes observed by LIS (Image courtesy of NASA)

In case you’re wondering why it’s that middle band and not the whole Earth, the TRMM satellite is in a 35 degree orbit because it was launched from Tanegashima, Japan.