Latest in space exploration by Sky Headlines logo
Lightning Imager

A Lightning Imager Revolutionizes Storm Prediction in Europe and Africa

Now, for the first time, a satellite device known as Lightning Imager has been turned on that can always spot lightning across Europe and Africa. New animations of the novel Lighting Imager show that it will change how violent storms are found and predicted.

Today, ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) shared the first images from the Lightning Imager on the first Meteosat Third Generation satellite.  The date for launching this satellite is December 13, 2022.

How does the lightning imager work?

Leonardo made the Lightning Imager, which can keep track of lightning flashes in the Earth’s atmosphere day or night. The distance the device is capable of recording is 36000 km. The device has four cameras that can look at Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and parts of South America. Each camera can take up to a thousand pictures per second and will always be looking at lightning from space.

Each animation comprises a series of pictures made by adding lightning readings from one minute to a single image of Earth taken by the Lightning Imager. The Lightning Imager will give weather experts more trust in their predictions of severe storms. It will be helpful especially in remote areas and on the seas where there aren’t as many ways to spot lightning.

What were the different perspectives regarding the capabilities of lightning imager?

Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA Simonetta Cheli once said about the instrument’s impressive abilities:

“The animations show that the instrument can accurately and effectively detect lightning activity over the whole area of the cameras’ field of view, 84% of the Earth disc.”

ESA and Eumetsat, along with European industrial partners, are making sure that communities and parts of the economy in Europe and beyond can take advantage of highly innovative new technology.”

Getting data on lightning and figuring out what it means eventually will help a lot with studying short-term weather forecasts and how such events affect climate change. At the same time, the Lightning Imager will be crucial to keeping air traffic safe since lightning can damage the instruments on board an airplane.

The head of Eumetsat, Phil Evans, also said;

“Severe storms are often preceded by sudden changes in how often lightning strikes. By watching these changes in activity, Lightning Imager data will give weather experts more trust in their predictions of severe storms.”

“When these data are combined with the high-resolution data from the Flexible Combined Imager, weather forecasters will be better able to track the development of severe storms and have more time to warn authorities and communities.”

What were the thoughts of Lightning Imager’s charge?

Guia Pastorini, in charge of engineering for the Lightning Imager at Leonardo, said,

“The Lightning Imager has four cameras. Each one can take 1000 pictures per second, day or night. This means that even a single lightning bolt can be found in less time than blinking an eye. Thanks to specific algorithms, data is processed to send only useful information to Earth. This, as a result, helps make weather predictions more accurate, helps study weather events, and improves safety in air travel.”

“Additionally, Leonardo has worked on this great technology for ten years with ESA, Eumetsat, and an international industrial team. Today, we are very proud to show the images of the first European lightning hunter, the only one in the world with these unique capabilities.”

Even though the videos are the first result from the Lightning Imager, the Meteosat Third Generation Imager is still being set up. During this time, the devices are calibrated, and the data is checked. Afterward, starting in early 2024, data from the Lightning Imager will be more sensitive and ready to be used.

The MTG satellites are made by a big group of European companies working together, led by Thales Alenia Space and including OHB. Leonardo, an Italian company, made the innovative Lightning Imager, and Telespazio helps Eumetsat get into space and stay there.

Meteosat’s Third Generation:

The Meteosat Third Generation Imager is the first of six satellites comprising the entire MTG system. Over the next 20 years, this system will give important information for short-term and early warnings of possible extreme weather events. When the mission is entirely up and running, two MTG-I satellites and one MTG Sounding (MTG-S) satellite will work together.

Additionally, there is another primary device, Flexible Combined Imager on the satellite that looks at Earth. Its images were shared earlier this year. The MTG-S sounding satellites will have an Infrared Sounder and an Ultraviolet Visible Near-Infrared instrument. This is a first for Meteosat.

Advancing Atmospheric Insights

By measuring the instability of the atmosphere in three dimensions throughout the clouds, the sounder will, therefore, be a big step forward in giving early warnings of severe thunderstorms. It is also expected to provide unique information from a geostationary orbit about how the atmosphere comprises ozone, carbon monoxide, and volcanic ashes.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *