The LEAP project studies charge processes in planetary atmospheres, processes that potentially influence the occurrence of Life by Electricity which is only sustainable due to the protection by the Atmosphere of a Planet.
The LEAP project investigates the hypothesis that dust clouds are an important source of charge separation and discharge processes in very low mass, extrasolar objects like M-dwarfs, Brown-Dwarfs, and planets.
The aim is to model charging, dust formation and sedimentation in dusty media to understand how the atmospheric ionisation mechanisms change at the border from stars to planets in the M-dwarf–Brown-Dwarf transition region where radio emission starst to exceed X-ray emission, and to investigate the physics and the occurrence of intra-cloud lightning outside our solar system. Lightning is suggested to have triggered the occurrence of life on Earth.
The LEAP project is initiated by funding from the European Research Council (acronym ‘lightning’) under the 7th frame workprogramm ‘Ideas’ for the duration of 5 years. It started in March 2010. The ERC project team is made of the project leader, 2 postdoctoral researchers, 3 PhD students, project- and summer students. Associated with the team are researchers from the University of St Andrews from the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and from the Universities of Glasgow, Lancaster and Oxford.
The LEAP project is hosted at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, UK, in the School of Physics and Astronomy.