|MadSci Network: Physics|
In a sense yes ; it was tried with the Italian tether experiment flown on a Shuttle mission in 1992, when a 1 kilometre tether briefly drew 1 kilowatt of energy from ionised atoms in the upper ionosphere. The main problem at present has been sturdy and reliable deployment of the tether wire, but that is another issue The aurora itself is essentially wild and unpredictable and so would pose problems of reliability and controllability of supply- rather like using very gusty winds for wind power Greater energy yields would be available in the van Allen charged particle belts- but these would present obvious biological hazards. Now perhaps a very long tether could draw down power from the van Allen Belts for a LEO facility such as a space station. -- Michael Martin-Smith
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