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many an observer of nature has looked at the awesome
power of lightning and asked how it could be possible to
harness this power.
it turns out , that relative to existing conventional power
sources--a hypothetical device that captured lightning in
perfect manner for energy production
would still be
because as powerful as lightning is due to its high
, it contains relatively low amounts of net energy for the
purposes of making a comparatively useful and
alternative energy source.
even in a highly thunderstormy high lightning area, ---
there simply isn't close to enough energy contained in
gross number of lightning strikes to provide a useful
amount of energy relative to conventional commercial
now, as with many exotic energy sources, there is
potential for it to be useful OUTSIDE of conventional
applications---particularly in remote applications.
now, sattelites and space stations are highly remote
applications. they are frequently powered with solar
that have access to very high quality direct sunlight.
however, just as an experiment, it would be very
interesting to see if it would be possible to harness
VERTICAL lightning that occurs in thunderstorms and
shoots upwards . these types of strikes, named sprites
elves, are a type of rapid and very FAR extending
the idea being, it would be possible for an orbiting
to direct these types of lightning to itself and harness
them . how? with lasers of course.
lasers have been used and new iterations of more and
more effective ones have been developed. what's more,a
laser from a space stations shined downwards towards
high stratosphere attentuates quite slowly over the
distance through the very thin atmosphere at that
so here's the question--why bother doing this if these
orbiting facilities already have solar power sources.
1) these types of vertical lightning are particularly
to study , so the number one reason is for studying them
2) these types of lightning might also coincide with a
of IONS and charged MOLECULES travelling straight up
space in the same direction as the discharge. is is
that by directing the lightning the space station may be
able to exploit a source of MASS and capture particles
a magnetic trap. this would be an unbelievably valueable
source of mass in outerspace. the only other sources of
mass readily available in orbit are the extremely diffuse
plasma wind and space dust. also , concentrations of
extremely hard to capture particles zipping around the
radiation van allen belts, but those are nowhere near
to low earth orbit.
finding a source of diffuse, semi concentrated mass in
earth orbit that can be exploited could be very very
3) because it's cool.
4)for backup power or night time power supplement to m
laser channeled lightning
[teslaberry, Aug 19 2014]
Mentioned in my anno [notexactly, Feb 27 2019]
Mentioned in my anno [notexactly, Feb 27 2019]
||M always did need a lot of power at nighttime. Think of the access (s)/he had to the queen and key government heads.
||Lasers work to direct lightning by ionizing the air
along their path, producing a path of lowered
resistance. No air, no path of lowered resistance, no
guided lightning strike.
||We should also give space stations propellers so we can move them around.
||What you could do is fire a plasma beam at the atmosphere. Assuming that's actually possible, it would work... once.
||It is cool. SPRITES and all. And not proposed here before as far as I can tell. So +.
||Maybe there is a fountain of charged particles coming up from the SPRITES that could be used to funnel their energy up.
||But the real concept: charge up your station by exploiting the differential electric charges between the earth and the moon. It would be easier if you first got the moon in geostationary orbit, which I think has been proposed here before.
||I wonder if meteorites attract lightning strikes? No doubt they get good and charged, rubbing up on the air. But maybe they carry oodles of exotic charge acquired in space?
||Now that was a little cruel [FT], funny, but cruel ;)
||Q: I don't think it's anywhere near enough to carry a charge, but, don't just a few of our satellites orbit low enough to technically still be in (the very, very far, outer reaches of) our 'atmosphere'?
||If we accept the Kármán line space begins at 100km, while lowest orbits seem to be around 130-150km (& only used by small spy satellites recovered within 50 days or less it appears).
||//We should also give space stations propellers so we can move them around.
||Erm, if you have lots of little propellers made out of iron, and you railgun them out of the space station, it would move the station. But then again so would teddy-bears.
||On the other hand, no problems with cavitation in a vacuum, so there is an upside.
||Erm if they aren`t magnetic then can`t use a linear
accelerator to propel them.
||They only need to be conductive, not magnetic. Some little graphite sabots will get those teddy bears up there just fine.
||//can`t use a linear accelerator to propel them//
||So? just open the window & bung them out with a Y frame catapult and a bit of elastic (don't forget to put your helmet on before you do) ;)
||//They only need to be conductive, not magnetic.
||Still wondering if railgun-launched teddy bears contravene "The Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space"
||Are they the fluffy outer casing for a small thermo nuclear device?
||// Q: I don't think it's anywhere near enough to carry a
charge, but, don't just a few of our satellites orbit low
enough to technically still be in (the very, very far, outer
reaches of) our 'atmosphere'? //
||GOCE [link] did, using an ion engine to offset drag.
Apparently SLATS [link] did too, though Wikipedia doesn't
have much info on it.