Sit. Rep. #147: Lightning Bolts

1- Lightning is a huge static electricity discharge.  Which is hotter; the surface of the Sun or a Lightning Bolt?  The surface of the sun runs about 11,000 deg. F. Lightning runs up to 50,000 deg. F.  There are some estimates that say the voltage of a bolt of lightning runs as high as 120,000 Volts.  And has about 10,ooo,ooo Watts of energy.  Now consider that all of this is expended in milliseconds.   It all sounds rather shocking.

2- Lightning happens around the globe about 3 million times every day.  That equates to roughly 44 bolts per second.  The National Weather Service says that there is an average of 43 US deaths per year from lightning.  NOAA states 51 annual average deaths.  Either way, it is dangerous!

3- There are 3 main types of lightning: 1- Intra Cloud, 2- Cloud to Cloud, 3- Cloud to Earth.  I have a 4th type of strike.  Cloud to flying machine.

4- Does the name John Aaron ring a bell?  Probably not.  Let me share a short story.  Apollo 12 lifted off from Kenedy Space Center on 14 November 1969 at 11:22 am.  The rocket was carrying 3 astronauts to the moon.  (commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, lunar module pilot Alan Bean and command module pilot Richard “Dick” Gordon)   Within the first minute after liftoff, lightning struck the Saturn 5 rocket twice.  And then multiple systems failed.

John Aaron had seen the same multiple systems failure in simulation training a full year earlier and uttered these fateful words “Try SCE to Aux.”  The SCE was then operating on batteries and allowed the rest of the electrical systems to be reset.  Apollo 12 then fulfilled the mission to the moon.  It returned to Earth on 24 November 1969.  Aaron earned this title. this compliment of being called a “steely-eyed missile man,” the absolute highest of NASA compliments.  SCE stands for Signal Conditioning Equipment.

I: How do you cut lightning?
J: With Bolt Cutters.

K: Have you ever thought about how lightning works?
L: It may strike you one day.

Semper Paratus,

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.