If you know a lot about lightning and atmospheric electricity, then DARPA wants to hear from you!
The project to provide lightning on tap is known as "Nimbus".
According to DARPA, Nimbus lightning-triggering equipment is in no way intended for differently-sane researchers to jumpstart enormous, powerful monsters assembled from assorted body parts and directed by brains recovered from criminal psychopaths. No, it's all about protecting property from lightning damage, or "advances in... science relating to lightning".
But then, DARPA claimed that packet-switched networking was all about military communications or something of that sort: whereas in fact it turned out to be predominantly a vehicle for global distribution of pornography. So it would be unwise to believe what they say this time around.
You can read the full pre-solicitation at the DARPA site, but you will probably be "tracked, traced and databased" (thank Infowarrior) if you click the link.
According to the full briefing report, the goals of the program are:
DARPA’s interest in lightning and atmospheric electricity centers on protection of personnel, assets, and ordnance from possible injury, damage, or disruption from lightning activity. The major thrust of the Nimbus program is to obtain a solid understanding of lightning and associated physical phenomena in order devise strategies to protect personnel, assets and ordnance. Specifically, the goals of Nimbus are to produce:
1.Experimentally validated, quantitative models of the natural lightning process, including initiation, propagation, and attachment. Questions include: what measurable quantities are important to understanding these processes? How can they be estimated from ground measurements?
2.Experimentally validated, quantitative models of the rocket-triggered lightning process, including initiation, propagation, and attachment, based on quantities that can be measured from the ground. This model should include predictions, based on relevant parameters (e.g., storm type, location, size, electric field strength, rocket speed, etc.), of the probability that lightning can be triggered using a rocket.
3.Experimentally validated, quantitative models of the triggering of transient luminous events (TLEs), lightning-induced electron precipitation, and related ionospheric phenomena, using rocket-triggered lightning.
4.Experimentally validated, quantitative models of any other process that is demonstrably fundamental to the understanding of physical phenomena associated with lightning. Examples of such phenomena might include: terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGF), production of x-rays, sferics, compact intra-cloud discharges, tribocharging in clouds, etc.
5.Optimal strategies to reduce the probability of lightning strikes in a given area in the presence of a thunderstorm. Given an area (size: 1 square kilometer) in the presence of a thunderstorm, is it possible to reduce the probability of a cloud to ground lightning strike in that area? How might lightning initiation be inhibited, or lightning propagation be diverted or blocked to achieve this goal? Is it possible to induce lightning in one region within the storm system, in order to suppress lightning in the region in need of protection? What are the optimal strategies, and the necessary resources, to achieve this goal?
Source: The Register ; DARPA
Image Source: Genzo