In January 2013 Flyrad started cooperating with the Florida Institute of Technology on their Lightning Strike Research Program. Specific attention is devoted to lightning strike on aircraft in flight. Professor J. Dwyer and his team demonstrated that, when a lightning strikes a still object, a powerful X-rays and Gamma-rays emission is generated  around the point of contact. This is due to the sudden deceleration of the electrons in the discharge.

LSRP 1   LSRP 2   LSRP 3   LSRP 4

Aircraft in flight, notwithstanding their speed of about 450 to 500 knots, can be considered motionless when compared with the lightning’s speed (approximately the speed of light). X-ray and Gamma-ray emissions after a lightning strike on an airplane can reach an intensity of 100 mSv (roughly corresponding to 3000 chest x-ray scans in one go!). Flyrad, in cooperation with a few selected operators, started Lightning Strike data collection through our LSR form. Collected data are periodically sent to Professor Dwyer for analysis. You may contribute by downloading and filling the form in case of an occurrence.

Participants will be kept anonymous and will only receive an automatic response.

Thank you for your cooperation.  



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High-Energy Atmospheric Physics: Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes and Related Phenomena
Joseph R. Dwyer · David M. Smith · Steven A. Cummer

Prof. Joseph Dwyer and his team of Scientists belonging to the Florida Institute of Technology, has well established that both thunderclouds and lightning routinely emit x-rays and gamma-rays. These emissions appear over wide timescales, ranging from submicrosecond bursts of x-rays associated with lightning leaders, to sub-millisecond bursts of gamma-rays seen in space called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, to minute long glows from thunderclouds seen on the ground and in or near the cloud by aircraft and balloons. In particular, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), which are thought to be emitted by thunderclouds, are so bright that they sometimes saturate detectors on spacecraft hundreds of kilometers away. These TGFs also generate energetic secondary electrons and positrons that are detected by spacecraft in the inner magnetosphere. It is generally believed that these x-ray and gamma-ray emissions are generated, via bremsstrahlung, by energetic runaway electrons that are accelerated by electric fields in the atmosphere.

Despite the ubiquity of thunderstorms, lightning, and related electrical phenomena, many important electromagnetic processes in our atmosphere are poorly understood. For example, many questions remain about thundercloud electrification and discharge mechanisms, lightning initiation, propagation and attachment processes, compact intra-cloud discharges, the global electrical circuit, and transient luminous events (Rakov and Uman 2003).
Traditionally, these topics have been studied using classical electromagnetism. However, in the last few years, a growing body of literature has emerged that describes the production, transport and interactions of energetic particles in our atmosphere. Specifically, it is now well established that thunderclouds, lightning, and long laboratory sparks in air all produce energetic runaway electrons and accompanying x-ray and gamma-ray emissions. Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), bright bursts of multi-MeV gamma-rays that are seen hundreds of kilometers away by spacecraft, are particularly impressive examples of runaway electron production in our atmosphere. Moreover, such high-energy particles interact with air atoms, forming low-energy electron and ion populations that may greatly increase the conductivity of air, potentially affecting the physics of thunderclouds and lightning. We shall refer to the rapidly expanding field of energetic particle and radiation physics in terrestrial and planetary atmospheres, and their effects, as High-Energy Atmospheric Physics. Not only does this field impact traditional atmospheric electricity and lightning physics, it also has implications for the study of cosmic-ray extensive air showers, discharge physics, space physics, plasma physics, and aviation safety.