Check Out This Powerful Thunderstorm as Seen from Space

Marcus Wandt ISS thunderstorm

Swedish astronaut Marcus Wandt recently returned from a three-week mission on the International Space Station (ISS) and captured some incredible photos and videos during his time in orbit, including footage of a powerful thunderstorm.

Wandt shot the thunderstorm, spotted by Digital Trends, while working on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Thor-Davis experiment.

The experiment includes a specialized camera, called the Davis camera. It was not used to capture the video, but it is a remarkable camera. It is an “event camera,” which works fundamentally different from a traditional camera. The Davis camera detects changes in contrast, instead of recording photons over some period like a normal image sensor. Using only a few watts of power, the specialized Davis camera can record the equivalent of 100,000 pictures per second.

ESA Astronaut Andreas Mogensen used it in early 2023 to capture a red sprit, a stunning Transient Luminous Event (TLE) that occurs above thunderclouds.

Red sprite image European Space Agency
Red sprite photographed in November 2023 aboard the ISS. “The red sprite appears above a thundercloud for only a fraction of a second, which is why the event-based Davis camera is needed to catch the fast lightning,” explains the ESA. | ESA/DTU/ A. Mogensen

Wandt didn’t seem to see any red sprites while in space, but he captured plenty of amazing photos of Earth and some very cool shots from inside the ISS.

Wandt’s new images and videos are the latest in a rich history of amazing phenomena caught on camera from the International Space Station. Mogensen also made history by capturing never-before-seen weather from the ISS nearly a decade ago.

Astronauts aboard the ISS also photographed spectacular golden airglow enveloping Earth last month.

There will be plenty more awesome photos from the ISS in the coming months and years, as Nikon just sent a batch of Z9 mirrorless cameras to the ISS, replacing the aging DSLR cameras that have long been aboard the station.

Sometimes photographers even create amazing ISS-related images from Earth, including a spectacular shot astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy captured of the ISS illuminated against a spectacular lunar backdrop.

Image credits: Featured image by Marcus Wandt / European Space Agency