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Rocket-Triggered Lightning

March 30th Fact-of-the-Day

It is necessary to observe lightning at close range to accurately investigate some of the associated phenomena, but natural lightning strikes at unpredictable times and places, making close observation by qualified people equipped at the time with the necessary instrumentation unlikely. Rocket-triggered lightning has been an important means of overcoming that problem. Experiments years ago demonstrated that a lightning strike often can be triggered by launching a rocket connected to a long grounded copper wire into a thunderstorm. A strike triggered in that way tends to follow the wire. Sensors and protected human observers can be located at or near the ground end to make close observations. The wire quickly vaporizes and does not conduct a significant percentage of the lightning current. Its function is merely to guide a lightning strike to measuring equipment and protected observers. ©2005 Martek International All rights reserved.

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