The onset and rotation frequency of a helical instability in a metal halide lamp is studied for gravity conditions varying from microgravity to 1.8g during parabolic flights and at microgravity in the International Space Station. The results show that gravity-induced convection seriously alters the onset and behavior of the instability. Hypergravity and low lamp power increase the rotation frequency of the instability, which seems independent of the arc pressure. At microgravity conditions, only arc bending and no rotation has been observed. The arc bending increases with lamp power, allowing one to monitor the driving and damping forces of the instability.