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Electrical Breakdown in a Martian Gas MixtureThe high probability for dust interactions during Martian dust storms and dust devils combined with the cold, dry climate of Mars most likely result in airborne dust that is highly charged. On Earth, potential gradients up to 5 kV/m have been recorded and in some cases resulted in lightning. Although the Martian atmosphere is not conducive to lightning generation, it is widely believed that electrical discharge in the form of a corona occurs. In order to understand the breakdown of gases, Paschen measurements are taken which relate the minimum potential required to spark across a gap between two electrodes. The minimum potential is plotted versus the pressure-distance value for electrodes of a given geometry. For most gases, the potential decreases as the pressure decreases. For CO2, the minimum in the curve happens to be at Mars atmospheric pressures (5-7 mm Hg) for many distances and geometries. However, a very small amount (<0.1%) of mixing gases radically changes the curve, as noted by Leach. Here, we present the first experimental results of a Paschen curve for a Mars gas mixture compared with 100% pure CO2.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Conference Paper
Buhler, C. R.
(Swales Aerospace)
Calle, C. I.
(NASA Kennedy Space Center Cocoa Beach, FL, United States)
Nelson, E.
(Pennsylvania Univ. Philadelphia, PA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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