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Corona and breakdown characteristics for a configuration of a sphere with a needle and a plane in N2 gas are studied. The protrusion was used to simulate a metallic particle attached to a high voltage conductor surface in power apparatus. The corona and breakdown characteristics depend on the vertical distance between the needle tip and the bottom sphere. It was observed that the breakdown path changed from needle-to-plane to sphere-to-plane while increasing the vertical distance of the needle from the plane. Although corona was generated at the needle-tip at first and developed in the direction of the plane, both the needle-plane and the sphere-plane breakdown occurred at some short vertical distances. The sphere-plane breakdown in that distance was triggered by corona from the needle.