The Deep Space Gateway is back and better than ever! On February 28th Timothy Lang, a Research Aerospace Technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, gave a talk a about The Deep Space Gateway Lightning Mapper (DLM) at a Deep Space Gateway Concept Science Workshop in Denver, Colorado. Lang introduced the concept of the Lightning Mapper, what it will do, and why it is important to be incorporated on the Deep Space Gateway. The Deep Space Gateway Lighting Mapper will be used to help track global change and thunderstorm processes by looking at high latitude lightning. It is planned to combine data from the sampling of individual thunderstorms with observations of the lightning at high latitudes. High latitudes are the areas greater than 50 degrees and occur nearer to the north and south poles of the Earth. Some questions the scientists want to answer are, “How is global change affecting thunderstorm patterns?” and “How do high-latitude thunderstorms differ from low-latitude?”
The Deep Space Gateway’s orbit provides a continuous view of the high latitudes of Earth and makes it the best place to monitor lightning. These regions are not well covered by current lighting mappers and other types of orbits have many drawbacks that prevent continuous coverage. Lang continued to pitch the project in the rest of his presentation. He highlighted the fact that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has declared lightning an essential climate variable that can provide important information about our ozone and atmospheric precipitation. Also, 75% of wildfires in high latitudes are caused by lightning, so many governmental departments are interested in becoming partners in the effort. In other words, we hope he gets the money!
Lang, T., R. J. Blakeslee, D. J., Blakeslee, R.J., Cecil, D.J., Christian, H.J., Gatlin, P.N., Goodman, S.J., Koshak, W.A., Petersen, W.A., Quick, M. and Schultz, C.J. 2018. The Deep Space Gateway Lighting Mapper (DLM) – Monitoring Global Change and Thunderstorm Processes Through Observations of Earth’s High-Latitude Lighting from Cis-Lunar Orbit. NASA Technical Reports Server. 20180001589.