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Fraser
2004-Apr-20, 04:41 PM
SUMMARY: By chasing dust devils across the desert with a specially equipped truck, scientists have discovered that on Earth at least, they can generate a high-voltage electric field. This has implications for future exploration on Mars since much larger dust devils crisscross the surface of the Red Planet. This situation happens because the dust particles in the mini-twister rub together and become charged; the negative particles are carried high into the air while the positive particles stay lower down. Future robotic missions to Mars will hope to measure the strength and danger these electric devils might pose down the road.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

VanderL
2004-Apr-20, 09:01 PM
This is exactly what Wal Thornhill has been telling us about Martian dust-devils, tornadoes and weather in general; all are electrically driven (that would just be a difference in viewing them, the one relies on external power, the other assumes wind/friction generated electricity).
I'll compare notes on what his claims were on his website and if the current explanation is compatible, but what I can see by quickly scanning this news item rings very much like an "Electric Universe" explanation.

Cheers.

Duane
2004-Apr-20, 09:57 PM
As soon as I saw this article, I knew that it would catch VanderL's eye!

I look forward to seeing what you find out VanderL.

Algenon the mouse
2004-Apr-21, 04:17 AM
This is very interesting. How strong is it though? I do not remember hearing about any lightning happening on Mars, but that could be due to the distance.

VanderL
2004-Apr-21, 05:43 PM
As soon as I saw this article, I knew that it would catch VanderL's eye!

I look forward to seeing what you find out VanderL.

Heheh, no time today, but I'll certainly be looking at it tomorrow, some things are just too obvious.
:D

Cheers.

damienpaul
2004-Apr-21, 06:06 PM
I am also very curious to read VanderL's findings. this is an interesting find, one question though, probably a stupid one, could we at all use that electrical discharge as an instantaneous power source??

VanderL
2004-Apr-22, 05:54 PM
Well, this is what I could find, of course the electric explanation is "coloured" by the model, but that is something that doesn't need to distract from the observations.

Firstly the idea that electricity in storms is generated by friction of windblown particles is challenged, so the power source is not the rising, heated air. Well, since that's the premise of the Electric model, let's assume that it could be done either way. The electric energy is released in a discharge. On Earth we see lightning, because the composition of our atmosphere allows this. Tornadoes are also a form of electric discharge, only they are obscured by clouds and can be compared to a "sheath vortex".
When we look at Earth's dust devils we know that they are electrical in nature (this has been studied extensively), the news item says that the Martian dust devils could be the same, but they are much larger. Now, the difference between Mars and Earth is not the electric potential, but the atmosphere itself. Basically dust devils are the form lightning takes in the thin Martian atmosphere.
We also know that all atmospheres in the solar system show signs of lightning in one form or another; Venus has extremely high lightning activity, Jupiter, Saturn and possibly Neptune together with all the atmosphere-rich moons, they all have lightning.
Even the Sun has it's tornadoes; the long thin filaments that can be seen at the edge of the sunspots appear to have "sheath vortex" properties. And that could mean that they are generated the same way.


could we at all use that electrical discharge as an instantaneous power source??
My guess is that it will be just as hard as tapping energy from lightning (see Back to the Future). But it could very well have been the reason that Spirit's computer went haywire.

Cheers.

Duane
2004-Apr-22, 07:01 PM
But it could very well have been the reason that Spirit's computer went haywire.

Nope, this was strickly a software problem. It would have affected Opportunity too, but once they figured out what the cause was, they sent the fix to Opportunity before the flash memory had a chance to get overloaded.

VanderL
2004-Apr-22, 07:57 PM
flash memory

Zap!! :D :D

Cheers.

VanderL
2004-Apr-24, 02:22 PM
Ok, I'll let the expert speak, Wal Thornhill has obviously spotted the same article as well

http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=zg70y10m

Duane, Damienpaul, Algenon (anybody else of course) what do you think of this?

Cheers.

VanderL
2004-Apr-26, 09:37 PM
Let me just state that I think that Wal Thornhill has a good point here. First of all there is the sudden "common knowledge" that dust devils on Earth have a strong electrical field, which is tentatively attributed to "rubbing" dust particles (creating result opposite to expectations). Next this is extrapolated to the much bigger Martian dust devils, where the air is much thinner and heat from the Sun is only a fraction of the heat on Earth, making the mechanism of producing electric fields even more strained.
I'd like to hear how these phenomena are better explained than by assuming an external electric power source.

Cheers.