SLS recently completed a three year performance evaluation of MERLIN (Mesoscale Eastern Range Lightning Information Network) for the US Space Force and 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Over the three year period, SLS’ ground-truth lightning data network collected more than 200 direct lightning strokes to tall structures and more than 6000 strokes that terminated on ground or ocean. Most events were captured by 2-5 Jupiter OLS high-speed video lightning monitoring systems, providing multi-angle views of the interaction of lightning with various structures. In addition, our time-of-arrival system, comprised of a network of 10 Jupiter TMS high-speed transient recorders, captured electromagnetic field data for all events.

SLS’ ground-truth data provided a means to precisely evaluate MERLIN’s performance for both strokes to tall structures and to ground. Preliminary results for the first two years of the study were recently presented at the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) in Cape Town, South Africa. The study results confirmed the limitations of large-scale lightning location systems and reinforced the requirement for site-specific, 100% detection efficiency lightning monitoring systems for critical assets.

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