Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Aircraft Fly Below Once-In-A-Century Leonid Meteor Storm

Date:
November 9, 1998
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Two research aircraft carrying new scientific observing instruments and high-definition TV cameras will seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the Leonids meteor shower on November 17, 1998. Only once a century does Earth's orbit cross the dense part of the tail of Comet Temple-Tuttle, which produces the storm.

Two research aircraft carrying new scientific observing instruments and high-definition TV cameras will seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the Leonids meteor shower on November 17, 1998. Only once a century does Earth's orbit cross the dense part of the tail of Comet Temple-Tuttle, which produces the storm.

An L-188C Electra, owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. will be joined by an Air Force KC-135 in the night skies over Okinawa, Japan, during the meteor storm.

"The NSF Electra is an ideal platform to participate in the Leonids meteor experiment," says Cliff Jacobs, program manager in NSF's division of atmospheric sciences, which funds NCAR. "Its ability to accommodate multiple state-of-the-art, upward-looking instruments will provide an exceptional opportunity to study these meteors."

The meteor storm will occur when Earth enters the dense debris behind Temple-Tuttle on November 17, 1998, and again on November 18, 1999. Although the comet returns every 33 years, its orbit crosses Earth's only once every hundred years. This century's crossing offers scientists a close look at the trails of unusually fresh and large (millimeter- to centimeter-size) meteors entering the earth's atmosphere at the fastest possible speeds -- 72 kilometers per second (160,000 miles per hour). Best observations will be from East Asia (China and Japan). Next year, Europe and North Africa will offer the best viewing. From the ground, the source of the storm appears in the constellation Leo.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is heading the experiment, which is the first mission in NASA's Astrobiology Program, created to study the origin and prevalence of life in the universe. The Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign is also supported by NSF, the U.S. Air Force, and NHK Japanese television.

The two aircraft are needed to take the observing instruments into clear skies above the weather-laden lower atmosphere. The Air Force's FISTA (Flying Infrared Signatures Technology Aircraft) will circle the NSF/NCAR Electra in a racetrack pattern between 30,000 and 40,000 feet while the Electra flies back and forth (north-south) about 10,000 feet lower within the loop. At these altitudes (7 to 10 kilometers, or roughly 4 to 6 miles) both planes will be safe from the meteors above, which will burn up at 100 to 120 kilometers (60 to 75 miles) above the ground.

A major scientific goal of the mission is to determine how a meteor's mass compares to its brightness. To date, scientists can only guess how much material enters the atmosphere during a meteor shower. The Electra will carry a dual-beam lidar (laser-based radar) built this year to detect iron vaporized from the meteors in the upper atmosphere. Says NCAR project manager Bruce Morley, "We know very little about iron in the atmosphere and even less about the iron contribution from meteors. Observing just one meteor accurately from the sky would make a big difference to our understanding."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Research Aircraft Fly Below Once-In-A-Century Leonid Meteor Storm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981109083355.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (1998, November 9). Research Aircraft Fly Below Once-In-A-Century Leonid Meteor Storm. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981109083355.htm
National Science Foundation. "Research Aircraft Fly Below Once-In-A-Century Leonid Meteor Storm." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981109083355.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins