The Thunderstorm Project of 1946–47 was the first large-scale investigation of thunderstorms; however, the electrical studies included in the project were quite limited. Scientists working in atmospheric electricity have long felt the need for a second project in which the electrical phenomena are thoroughly investigated. The opportunity for such a project was provided by Kennedy Space Center (KSC), NASA, when the center issued a generous invitation to the atmospheric electricians to join in cooperative studies of storms at KSC. This invitation—enthusiastically accepted—has led to the Thunderstorm Research International Program (TRIP).
In the summer of 1976, some 20 principal investigators will participate in TRIP. Each investigator provides his own basic funding and equipment; however, each will also receive logistic support from KSC such as facilities at experimental sites and office space. The experiments include radar observations; electrical measurements at the ground and from aircraft and balloons; tests of various methods for locating lightning; studies of thunder; and so on.
The organization of TRIP-76 is fundamentally cooperative; there is no direction. Interlinkage and exchange of data among the investigators are essentially on a voluntary basis. Perhaps the greatest experiment in TRIP-76 is to test whether cooperation can indeed be achieved with a minimum of organization. Future versions of TRIP are planned for KSC in 1977 and 1978 and for other parts of the United States later; these may need to be more structured.