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Scientists plan to see St. Elmo's lights on Martian helicopters

Added Thu, 03/02/2022
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Дата публикации
Thu, 03/02/2022
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Rotating propellers of helicopters and drones flying over the Red Planet can cause electric currents to appear in the thin Martian atmosphere. This process will cause the air surrounding the aircraft to glow. The light will be visible in the evening hours when the sky is darkening, reports Phys.org .

Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, explained that the currents generated by drone blades are too small to pose a threat to the spacecraft, but they provide an opportunity to improve understanding of the accumulation of electric charge.

This phenomenon occurs in everyday life when friction transfers an electric charge between objects, for example, when a person rubs a balloon on his clothes or hair. The electrified balloon attracts the hair, causing it to rise.

The drone's blades collide with tiny specks of dust in the Martian air as the helicopter scatters dust near the surface. When the propeller collides with dust particles, the charge accumulates on them, creating an electric field. The atmosphere begins to conduct electricity, a process known as "atmospheric breakdown" occurs.

The currents generated by the drone are very small, but they can still make the air around the blades and other parts of the helicopter glow blue-purple.

A similar phenomenon, known as St. Elmo's Lights, is observed on Earth in the form of an electric glow on airplanes and ships during storms and thunderstorms.

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