Gateway for:

Member Countries

Cosmic rays and thunderstorm activity of planetary atmospheres


The Association of Cosmic rays and Penetrating Radiation to Thunderstorm Electrical Activity and the Implications for Planetary Atmospheres

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-OTH/Other/Physics
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology
  • MAT-OTH/Other/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov

Supporting institutes

  • FIAN Lebedev, Russia, Moscow


  • Los-Alamos National Laboratory / Research and Development Group NIS-RD, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nLos-Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos

Project summary

The purpose of the project is a comprehensive study of correlation of cosmic rays and secondary penetrating radiation with the intensity of thunderstorm activity of planetary atmospheres.

Importance of researches of the correlation of the cosmic rays with thunderstorm activity of atmospheres, including the frequency of lightning discharges and variations of the background X-radiation, is stimulated by the necessity to predict the thunderstorm activity and to estimate effects of joint action of cosmic rays and thunderstorm electrical fields on electronic equipment of flight vehicles and health of the people, in particular to calculate a protection of plane crews and passengers from the environmental penetrating radiation enhanced by thunderstorm fields.

Planned directions of the activity.

1. Development of the theory of cosmic ray interaction with the atmosphere in electric field of thunderstorm clouds: mechanisms of a penetrating radiation generation, X-ray transport at large distances, evolution of a conducting channel in a thunderstorm field created by cosmic ray shower, electron acceleration in strong local fields of lightning discharge, generation of radiation by upward atmospheric discharges (UAD).

2. Analysis of possible correlation of the primary cosmic rays, characteristics of the thunderstorm atmosphere, such as conductivity, its x-ray background, electric field strength, with the process of lightning initiation.
3. Elaboration of adequate methods of numerical modeling and computer codes.
4. Laboratory experiments on excitation of X-ray and optical emissions in rarefied air atmosphere by high-energy electron beams are planned. Laboratory modeling of Red Sprite component of UAD emissions is the purpose of the experiments.

Expected results:

1. Results of numerical calculations of cosmic ray interaction with atmosphere in thundercloud electric field.

2. Numerical model of evolution of the track ionized by cosmic ray shower initiated by a primary cosmic particle with energy more than 1015 eV. Results of analyses of possibility of the lightning initiation.
3. Theoretical study of the influence of thunderstorm electric field on the intensity of the background X-rays and atmosphere conductivity.
4. Numerical model of X-ray transport at large distances in the atmosphere.
5. Theoretical study of the mechanism and numerical model of electron acceleration and generation of penetrating radiation at the leader front or lightning return stroke.
6. Versions of the code realizing a Monte-Carlo technique: (1) with expansion of simulated energies up to gigaelectronvolt range and (2) with capability of simulating of X-ray transport at large distances in the atmosphere.
7. Kinetic equation intended for modeling of electron kinetics in strong electric fields.
8. Laboratory set generating wide spectrum of hard X-rays, recommended for radiobiological researche and processing of new materials.
9. Results of laboratory modeling of the radiation generation by discharges of the Red Sprite type.
10. Evaluations of protection of electronic equipment of flight vehicles and plane crews and passengers from joint action of cosmic rays and thunderstorm fields.

The expected results of items 6, 8 and 10 can be commercially attractive.

Experimenters on plasma physics (LPI), theoreticians (VNIIEF, LPI) and mathematicians (VNIIEF), specializing on the theory and numerical simulation of processes taking place in gas discharges and in hot and low temperature plasma and transport of charged particles and photons in the matter participate in the project. Many of them are known due to research in these areas, including papers published on the theme of the Project. The Project manager Professor L.P. Babich is known by works on physics of strong nonlocal processes in plasma recognized by the world scientific community. He is an author of the monograph on the Project theme: “High energy phenomena in electric discharges in dense gases: theory, experiment and natural phenomena”, ISTC Sc. and Tech. Series, V.2. The Project submanager in LPI academician A.V. Gurevich is a world known scientist on physics of atmosphere, author of a series of the monographs. A.V. Gurevich is a pioneer of research of the breakdown by relativistic runaway electrons in dense gases


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

Promotional Material

Значимы проект

See ISTC's new Promotional video view