Sprite: Spirits of Another Sort

·Thunderstorms Generate Elusive and Mysterious Sprites.
For centuries, man has been transfixed by the spectacular lightning displays of thunderstorms. But after all those years of gazing at the sky, we never realized there was an equally amazing light show going on above the clouds.
In our own century, pilots reported seeing strange lights in the sky above thunderstorms. Low-light cameras on board airplanes and the Space Shuttle have recently made possible the documentation of sprites - quick red flashes of light that appear above storm clouds.
Dr. Dave Sentman of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is one among a small group of researchers who have been studying these mysterious bursts of colored light. Although no one is sure what sprites really are or what causes them, these scientists have learned that sprites contain a great deal of energy.
"Although we're not yet certain, we suspect that the energies from sprites may be sufficient to drive some novel chemical reactions," said Sentman. "The region of the atmosphere where sprites appear typically doesn't contain a lot of energy, so the energy introduced from a sprite could do some really interesting things."
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