Science and Technology News

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NASA Lightning Chat: And You Thought NASCAR Was Fast...

Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge "spark" accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms. From this discharge of atmospheric electricity, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 140,000 miles per hour, and can reach temperatures approaching 54,000 Fahrenheit, hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels.

On Thursday, Sept. 22, chat experts Dr. Richard Blakeslee, atmospheric research scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. and thunderstorm physicist Dr. Monte Bateman of Universities Space Research Association will answer your questions via live Web chat.

Joining the chat is easy. Simply return to this page a few minutes before 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 22. The chat module will appear on nasa.gov/connect/chat/lightning_chat2.html. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions!

See you in chat!

More About the Lightning Chat
So what can you learn from a lightning chat? Find out who gets the most lightning; why there are different types of lightning; how we can use lightning to predict severe weather; what are the current "hot topics" in research; and what new technology and measurement systems are being developed to push the frontiers of our knowledge. You can also learn about lightning safety, the global distribution and frequency of lightning occurrence, as well as some of its physical characteristics; the relationship of lightning to severe storms and weather -- e.g., lightning rate changes may serve as a "pre-cursor" or advanced indicator to later severe weather at the ground such as tornadoes; and other lightning research topics such as lightning-hurricane relationships and terrestrial gamma-ray bursts.

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