DARPA Seeks Means to Manipulate Lightning

LightningClay Dillow writes on Popular Science:

Lightning Mother Nature has it. DARPA wants it.

China and Russia try to control rain clouds and the Dutch use technology to keep low-lying inland areas from flooding, so why shouldn’t the United States be able to manipulate lightning? In an attempt to better understand one of nature’s most powerful processes, DARPA issued a broad agency announcement yesterday asking for ideas on how to best protect American personnel and resources from dangers and costs associated with lightning strikes. To wit:

Lightning causes more than $1B/year in direct damages to property in addition to the loss of lives, disruption of activities (for example, postponement of satellite launches) and their corresponding costs. A better understanding of the physics underlying lightning discharge, associated emissions, and related processes (for example, tribocharging in the clouds) may lead to revolutionary advances in the state of the art of lightning protection.

Specifically, DARPA seeks validated models on the natural lightning process, a means of triggering lightning within a storm intentionally, and strategies for protecting a given area from lightning strikes during a storm by somehow reducing the probability that lightning will strike there.

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