A rare glimpse of a "gigantic jet" — a huge and mysterious burst of lightning that connects a thunderstorm with the upper atmosphere — was made over China in 2010 and was recently described by scientists.
The gigantic jet took place in eastern China on Aug. 12, 2010 — the farthest a ground-based one has ever been observed from the equator, according to the research team.
Previous jets were mainly seen in tropical or subtropical regions, but this one took place around 35 degrees latitude, about the same as the southern part of Tennessee in the United States.
"This is the first report from mainland China," lead researcher Jing Yang, an atmospheric scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet. The results were recently published in the Chinese Science Bulletin
Researchers got a good look at the storm using a variety of tools, including Doppler radar data and weather pictures in the infrared band of radiation.
The gigantic jet peaked at about 55 miles (89 kilometers) above the ground, far above the cloudtops that were measured with Doppler radar at an altitude of 11 miles (17 km).