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lightning powered space stations

artificially guided lightning to power space stations
(+2, -2)
  [vote for,

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 a perfect manner for energy production would still be useless because as powerful as lightning is due to its high voltage , it contains relatively low amounts of net energy for the purposes of making a comparatively useful and profitable alternative energy source.

even in a highly thunderstormy high lightning area, --- there simply isn't close to enough energy contained in the gross number of lightning strikes to provide a useful amount of energy relative to conventional commercial industrial sources.

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 panels 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 and elves, are a type of rapid and very FAR extending lightning.

the idea being, it would be possible for an orbiting station 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 the high stratosphere attentuates quite slowly over the distance through the very thin atmosphere at that altitude.

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 difficult to study , so the number one reason is for studying them 2) these types of lightning might also coincide with a burst of IONS and charged MOLECULES travelling straight up into space in the same direction as the discharge. is is possible that by directing the lightning the space station may be able to exploit a source of MASS and capture particles into 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 close to low earth orbit.

finding a source of diffuse, semi concentrated mass in low earth orbit that can be exploited could be very very valuable.

3) because it's cool.

4)for backup power or night time power supplement to m

teslaberry, Aug 19 2014

laser channeled lightning http://phys.org/new...el-electricity.html
[teslaberry, Aug 19 2014]

GOCE https://en.wikipedi...irculation_Explorer
Mentioned in my anno [notexactly, Feb 27 2019]

SLATS https://en.wikipedi...tude_Test_Satellite
Mentioned in my anno [notexactly, Feb 27 2019]

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       M always did need a lot of power at nighttime. Think of the access (s)/he had to the queen and key government heads.
RayfordSteele, Aug 19 2014

       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.
MechE, Aug 19 2014

       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.
FlyingToaster, Aug 19 2014

       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?
bungston, Aug 19 2014


       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'?
Skewed, Aug 19 2014

       <Back from Google>   

       no... none of them do...   

       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).
Skewed, Aug 19 2014

       //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.
not_morrison_rm, Aug 19 2014

       Why iron? mass is mass.
Skewed, Aug 20 2014

       Erm if they aren`t magnetic then can`t use a linear accelerator to propel them.
not_morrison_rm, Aug 20 2014

       They only need to be conductive, not magnetic. Some little graphite sabots will get those teddy bears up there just fine.
bungston, Aug 20 2014

       //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) ;)
Skewed, Aug 20 2014

       //They only need to be conductive, not magnetic.   

       I sit corrected.   

       Still wondering if railgun-launched teddy bears contravene "The Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space"
not_morrison_rm, Aug 20 2014

       Are they the fluffy outer casing for a small thermo nuclear device?   

       If not your probably ok.
Skewed, Aug 20 2014

       // 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.
notexactly, Feb 27 2019


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