While dust storms are pretty regular occurrences in Mars, scientists found evidences of lightning during one back in 2009. Since then, researchers have failed to spot another which suggests that lightning might be very rare occurrence in the red planet than we previously though. In a new study, a group of researchers have explained why the phenomenon is so rare compared to here in Earth.
The research was recently published in the journal Icarus. In order to find out the lack of lightning in Mars, the group used grains of dark volcanic rocks to create environment similar to that of during dust storms in Mars. Afterwards, the researchers varied the air pressure from 0.03 millibars to 80 millibars to replicate the atmospheric pressure of Mars In addition to this, they also put the grains on a vibrating plate to generate electric charge. After the processes were completed, scientists measure the amount of electric charge in the grains.
Interestingly, the group found that the grains didn’t have problems to gain charge. However, the air pressures in Mars are at least five times smaller compared to the air pressures during the experiment. As a result, there aren’t a lot of lightnings in the Martian dust storms.