Lightning and the Apollo 17/Saturn V Exhaust Plume Academic Article uri icon


  • Survey spectra of the Apollo 17/Saturn V exhaust plume during launch were obtained in the ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared. The plume resembles a blackbody source for about 40 m from the exit plane, and beyond this point the characteristic radiation is the sodium D-lines. The spectral data support previous reports mat the peak exhaust temperature is near 2600° K, which in turn suggests the conductivity in the upper 40 m of plume is in the range 10-7 to 10-4 mho/cm or higher. We examine the implication of these results for the initiation of lightning such as occurred during the launch of Apollo 12. © American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1974, All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • KRIDER, E. P., ORVILLE, R. E., NOGGLE, R. C., & UMAN, M. A.

citation count

  • 14

publication date

  • February 1974