The Cloud Effects Phase of the Laser Induced Lightning Investigation.
NEW MEXICO INST OF MINING AND TECHNOLOGY SOCORRO RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DIV
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A mountain-top laboratory facility has been established in central New Mexico for studies of the effects of high powered lasers on the ionization of the air and on the possible triggering of lightning from thunderclouds overhead. A net of electric field meters and another one with television cameras and video recorders have been established for determinations of the nature of normal and of triggered lightning in the operational area. A special electric field meter is carried beneath a captive balloon to heights of about 600 m above the facility and measured the electric fields there for the entire life of several storms. The field strengths aloft were as much as 6 fold greater than those observed at the surface the field changes after lightning did not show the characteristic reversal caused by the corona produced space charge and the field after lightning recovered with a linear increase until lightning occurred again. Monitoring of electric fields aloft therefore provide a better choice of the optimum times for a lightning triggering attempt. As part of the 1979 field work, lightning discharges were induced twice by the use of wire-trailing, French rockets fired into thunderclouds over the Magdalena Mountains. As a result, interesting measurements of the breakdown process were obtained using AF Weapons Laboratory electromagnetic sensors Magnetic field derivative signals in excess of 17 Teslassecond were observed in one of the triggered discharges.
- Atmospheric Physics
- Lasers and Masers