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High-Speed Camera at Florida Tech Captures Amazing Lightning Flashes

Super-Slow-Motion Footage from May Storms

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Scientists at Florida Institute of Technology used a high-speed camera to capture amazing lighting flashes from a May thunderstorm about six miles from the university’s Melbourne campus.

The flashes were recorded at 7,000 frames per second, and the video has captivated viewers from around the world thanks to extensive media coverage including on BBC, in Popular Science’s Australia edition, and in The Washington Post.

The video was captured using a high-speed camera purchased with a $456,000 grant from the National Science Foundation obtained by Dr. Ningyu Liu, an associate professor in Florida Tech’s Geospace Physics Lab and the principal investigator for the project, and Dr. Hamid Rassoul, dean of Florida Tech’s College of Science and the project’s co-principal investigator. The work also involves graduate students Levi Boggs, Julia Tilles, and Alan Bozarth.

The camera’s ultimate use will be as part of a spectrograph used to capture footage that will allow for the study of the dynamics and energetics of the upward electrical discharges from thunderstorms known as transient luminous events, or TLEs. Examples of TLEs include starters, jets and gigantic jets.

Findings from the research into TLEs may provide a clearer understanding of their formations, dynamics and evolutions. The camera, a Phantom v1210 from Vision Research, is the first piece of the spectrograph, and Drs. Liu and Rassoul will be adding additional components, including intensifier and prism systems, to it later this summer.

Find the video at https://youtu.be/QUIpltFo_fg.

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