Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

A FORTE for lightning



A newly launched satellite designed to test technology to monitor compliance with arms control treaties is detecting thousands of more radio bursts from lightning strikes and other phenomena than previously reported from other satellites, according to a poster presented at the AGU Fall Meeting in December.

Instruments on board the Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events (FORTE) satellite—a joint project of the United States' Department of Energy's Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories—are detecting powerful radio bursts that are 100 times stronger and 1,000 times briefer than radio emissions generated by lightning, and are believed to originate from an altitude of 3–10 miles in the vicinity of thunderstorm complexes.