Flashes from space: the Lightning Imager aboard the Meteosat Third Generation satellite delivers its first images

03 July 2023

EUMETSAT, Europe's meteorological satellite agency, and ESA, the European Space Agency, have today published the first ever images and animations obtained from Leonardo’s Lightning Imager, the first lightning hunter.

Launched on 13 December aboard the Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) satellite some 36,000 kilometres from Earth, Europe’s first instrument capable of continuously detecting bolts of lightning above Europe, Africa, parts of the Middle East and South America from space has now been activated and is proving to be a breakthrough technology in storm and thunderstorm detection and forecasting. Particularly in remote regions and oceans where lightning detection capabilities are limited.


Each animation is a sequence of images created by collecting one minute’s worth of lightning measurements, overlaid on a single image of the Earth from the Lightning Imager.  

The data used for these animations were acquired at a lower sensitivity setting of the instrument than will be provided to meteorological services for weather forecasting purposes. MTG-I1 is currently undergoing its commissioning phase during which the instruments are calibrated and the data validated.

Data from the Lightning Imager will be available for operational use from early 2024.  

Top picture: ©ESAMlabspace