FORTE satellite senses more lightning than expected

At last December`s meeting of the American Geophysical Union (San Francisco, CA) researchers described the success of the FORTE (Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events) satellite in detecting 1000 radio bursts per day from lightning strikes and other phenomena. The 470-lb satellite is designed to test technology for monitoring compliance with arms-control treaties by detecting, recording, and analyzing bursts of radio energy and light arising from near the Earth`s surface--it is also intend

FORTE satellite senses more lightning than expected

At last December`s meeting of the American Geophysical Union (San Francisco, CA) researchers described the success of the FORTE (Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events) satellite in detecting 1000 radio bursts per day from lightning strikes and other phenomena. The 470-lb satellite is designed to test technology for monitoring compliance with arms-control treaties by detecting, recording, and analyzing bursts of radio energy and light arising from near the Earth`s surface--it is also intended to gather data on the physics of lightning and the ionosphere. The satellite--a joint project of Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM) and Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM)--is in a polar orbit 480 m above Earth. Of particular interest to researchers are the mysterious and powerful radio bursts called trans-ionospheric pulse pairs that seem to originate in the vicinity of thunderstorm complexes. Robert Fran¥of Los Alamos says that FORTE is revolutionary because it integrates a wide-field optical imager that can locate lightning flashes and a sensitive RF sensor system on the same platform.

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