You may have arrived at this page without seeing the abstract which was accepted
for presentation at IEEE's ICOPS 2008 conference. It can be found at this link.

The material below is not at all the final word or conclusive as valid ideas for consideration. I'll be entertaining some
thoughts I hope to bring into the discussion and if necessary discard but the primary item i intend
to focus on is coronal characteristics of a charged body and their role in formation of features resulting from
a discharge. This may not be a valid point of focus but it is a point of curiosity that has captured my
attention and interest.

What becomes visible need not be formed by something visible.

Be sure to look through these images Which show, in some cases, acculation of material along the same path as material removal, yet concentrated to the central apex and tendril paths.

These two images are greatly revealing of many aspects in a single discharge between two bodies

Images will be the primary tool of the presentation, this time around.
View developing poster here. Or Here is a jpg of the final version of Poster 08
which was placed through the assistance of Jan Weiss and David Schmitz
Additional thanks to Anthony L Peratt for facilitation and independent-confirmation.

Update; Sept 2013, There was a problem in viewing the entire gif image of poster08,, sorry about not seeing it sooner.


Z. Dahlen Parker

Electrostatic Discharge patterns, in a thin layer of dust on a CRT are similar in many ways to some enigmatic features seen on certain moons and planets. A simple experiment with a dust covered CRT could helps to reveal how some planetary surface features are formed. Many features on moons and asteroids are hard to explain through standard mechanisms. Without a valid and testable explanation, any understanding of solar system history is questionable.

Spidery features, seen on Mercury and the Moon, are among the most puzzling of planetary features. The closer you look the more they look like electric discharge patterns.

There is no mistaking the signatures of electrical discharge even thought they take on several forms. The only form to be focused upon here is negative relief spiders. In miniature the appearance is the same as at planetary scale, rounded depressions radiating out from a central focal point. The radials have been seen in experiments to be the result of leader-strokes or corona characteristics of an electric discharge. A sustained arc at higher currents forms other features such as complex craters.

There is no doubt in an electrical cause for the many features seen throughout the solar system. Our primary challenge is comprehending the reach of electrical activity in the form of Electrical Discharge Machining at an electrostatic level of intensity. Objects in close proximity interact electrically and the signature is clear to see in one of many patterns, negative relief spidery radials from a central point that can include a crater feature.

The location of the feature is of particular importance placing this feature in the vacinity of auroral currents. Could ongoing interactions be evident by the bright spots in Mercury's spider image below? This question is based in part on the appearance of other features around those bright spots, their dull appearance, also what is seen on other bodies- similarly brightened areas seen in images of surface features on comets.
If the brightness is only reflected light from glassified surfaces then why are adjacent craters not reflecting light equally?

The following is a quote directly from the Messenger project:

" The plasma affects the magnetic field, contributes to the "space weathering" of the planet's surface, and sputters material from the surface to populate the exosphere. This first detection of heavy pick-up ions, Na+ and other species, near Mercury is consistent with their production by ionization of exospheric neutral species."

Exactly what this mean is not clear to me but it sounds like ongoing activity.

Here is an explanation from Wal Thornhill of two different types of sputtering, described in a 2006 article on his prediction for the Deep Impact Mission.

"Surface Erosion"

"Sputtering is recognized as one of the forms of space weathering, a process that changes the physical and chemical properties of airless bodies, such as asteroids and our Moon. It is a slow, diffuse effect due to the mechanical impact of solar wind ions. Cathode sputtering, on the other hand, disintegrates the substance of a cathode by the bombardment of energetic ions in an electric discharge. It concentrates the cathode erosion in small spots, which give rise to rapid surface erosion in the form of steep-walled craters. Movement of the cathode arc creates a familiar "etched" look to a surface. The sputtered material is accelerated from the cathode in well-collimated cathode jets. Cometary jets and the so-called "volcanoes" on Io are prime examples."

Wal Thornhill explains further the location of this feature on Mercury and how auroral currents could reach the surface due to the absence of an atmosphere.

I would then raise the question: "If both interactions are ions, one diffuse and one concentrated, is it not possible that a dielectric breakdown is occurring on a localized level, not unlike dustdevils or tornados and taking the diffuse ion activity and bumping it up to and extreme level?"

From CRT experiments, at the moment of dielectric breakdown, the lightly bound surface material is stripped away along the 'radial' trenches, it is then pulled into columnar concentrations which , at planetary scale, may set up the next level of interaction, the concentrated discharge. There is reason to expect that the lossened material provides a pathway for focused arc and that it can also travel across the surface eroding craters and deep trenches along the way. You can see in the Mercury image below a distinct difference between the 6:00 trenchs, emerging from the crater, and those which form the surrounding radials.

Experiments with electrostatic discharge to a dust covered CRT produced the following image on the left and it matches planetary feature seen on Mercury (right image) in great detail. The coronal aspect of the discuarge, proposed to have been laid down first, is probably followed by the sustained current.

 Full size image of Pantheon Fossae from original source

Stereo Viewer Image
Note the feature in the upper left corner and it's long tendril at the 4:00 positions. The camparrison with the Mercury image is almost exact. That CRT feature was made with a single dischage whereas the one next to it was made with several.

Image taken of 1 million volt test of power lines which resulted in coronal discharge.

This image from A.D. Moorse's book 'Electrostatics' reveals a radial symmetry that is also noted in high energy plasma lab experiments, petroglyphs and other ancient representations associated with celestial events in a distant time (yet to be realized in full). A relationship between coronal discharges and planetary features may not involve any of these observations with the exception of high energy lab experiments which produce the visible characteristics which would not be seen at the low energy level of electrostatic discharges which formed the CRT spider features.

Moore mentions important details of both negative and positive corona. Negative corona has "jumpy streamers" associated with its discharge that are audible as well. Positive corona are smooth, uniform and quiet.

How and if this can be applied to surface features is not yet clear.

This image comes from A. L. Peratt's book 'Physics of the Plasma Universe' figure 4.19

"An image of Lichtenstein figures recorded of an acrylic insulator used in a terawatt pulsed-power generator."
(The term Lichtenberg seems more appropriate here rather than what is used in the book.)

In the paragraph 4.6.1 explaining the feature he goes into details that may apply here in reference to Mercury and other features. In reference to the image he explains that "Surface discharges are produced by large electric fields that develop between the surface and subsurface layers in a dielectric material as a consequence of energetic charged-particle deposition."..

.."If the material is an insulator, the space charge will build up at a rate faster than the local relaxation time, and the associated electric field will increase. When the field reaches a critical value that depends on the material, surface smoothness, and porosity, a surface discharge will occur." ..

.. "Surface discharges will also occur on natural dielectrics in the solar system when these surfaces are exposed to large fluxes of energetic particles. This condition can be found, for example, where magnetospheric currents interact with the surfaces of the giant planets and their satellites."

This link will take you to images similar to what is refered to above and the complete explanation in a separate post.

An interesting detail to consider about Mercury is it's similarity to our moon. In size, it is only 1000 miles larger in diameter, but that is not the primary similarity, it's surface features are so much like the moon's but just a bit more defined. This raises the question "did our moon have a similar relationship with the sun or another star-like body in the past?" You can't go to the astronomical community for that answer, you'd need to consult with a plasma-cosmologist 'and' a comparative mythologist who considers the ancient references to cosmic activity as a valid source of insight into solar system history. You'll be amazed at what the ancients said about the changes to our solar system. Below, you'll find a link to those sources of material.

Getting back to the electrical mechanism which can cause planetary features, this mechanism, Electrical Discharge Machining, has been used in labs to create similar features as those seen on Mercury and elsewhere. The low energy experiments with electrostatic discharge produce the spidery radial features with regularity. To get the type of central crater in the image above, the high energy experiments are needed. The defining line between energy levels is not that absolute, for even at the low energy of an electro static discharge crater features are formed, however they lack molten/elevated aspects. Basic characteristics are the same; trenches, circularity, central and perimeter concentration of material and occasionally radial trenches. These radial trenches are again the focus for now.

You may note that the radial features have a softer appearance than the central crater and its largest leader trenches. The sustained discharge, once established will travel around the focal point and jump around in a chaotic manner. It can reach out a tag the surrounding surface with brief contact and produce dished craters. It can also walk across the surface and erode very pronounced trenches but there is a more subtle phase in the moments prior to the intense discharge that can really be appreciated best in low energy electrostatic experiments. Leader strokes reach out with invisible fingers ahead of the major discharge and begin the removal of material in a precise pattern. It happens so fast that slow motion is needed to see the best details. There is no visible arc in the initial interaction, just the movement of material.

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