The Airborne Lightning Observatory for FEGS and TGFs (ALOFT) airborne campaign concluded on 7/31/23. During July, the campaign used the NASA ER-2 to overfly tropical thunderstorms in the Americas to hunt for lightning and gamma-ray emissions. ALOFT was a tremendous success, detecting well over 100 terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), as well as many lower-energy yet longer-lived gamma-ray emissions known as glows. This level of success was not anticipated, as the minimum science requirement for the campaign was detection of a single TGF across approximately 60 science flight hours. ALOFT also gathered dozens of hours of validation data for spaceborne lightning detectors like the International Space Station Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS LIS) and the Geostationary Lightning Mappers (GLMs) and tested new concepts for future lightning detection from space. Finally, ALOFT made observations relevant to upcoming NASA missions like the Atmosphere Observing System (AOS).
A NASA YouTube video highlighting airborne operations during ALOFT can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFEtaGJ-ZAs. A virtual media day for ALOFT was scheduled on 15 August. ALOFT is a partnership between NASA, the University of Bergen (Norway), and several other US and international institutions.
FEGS = Fly’s Eye GLM Simulator