Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Leonid Meteor Storm Won't Deter Hubble From Space Observations

Date:
November 11, 1998
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Summary:
The anticipated celestial bombardment called the Leonid meteor storm on the afternoon of November 17th (EST) won't deter NASA's Hubble Space Telescope from its key mission of gazing far across the universe -- as long as the view is in the opposite direction of the incoming meteor swarm.

The anticipated celestial bombardment called the Leonid meteor stormon the afternoon of November 17th (EST) won't deter NASA's Hubble SpaceTelescope from its key mission of gazing far across the universe -- aslong as the view is in the opposite direction of the incoming meteorswarm.

Related Articles


Using the brilliant glow of a distant quasar located near the southernboundary of the constellation Aquarius, Hubble will probe galaxyformation and the distribution of matter in space. The Hubble datawill become immediately available to the astronomical community.

The meteor storm is an expected downpour of thousands of meteorszooming by Earth. They pose a small but potential threat to Hubble andother satellites, say experts. The meteors appear to come from thedirection of the zodiacal constellation Leo the Lion, and hence thestorm is called the Leonids.

For a 10-hour period at the peak of the storm, estimated to be atapproximately 2:43 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 17th, thetelescope will be oriented with its aft bulkhead facing into thedirection of the meteoroid stream. Hubble's solar panels will lay flat,or parallel to the meteoroid flow.

Though most Leonid meteoroids are smaller than a grain of sand, theyzoom across space at a menacing 155,000 miles per hours. A speck-sizedmeteoroid can pack the wallop of a .22 caliber bullet as it piercesthe spacecraft hull.

Still, even at the peak of meteor activity the density of particles inany given region of space is extremely low. So, project scientistspredict that Hubble has less than a 1-in-10,000 chance of being hit bya particle large enough to pierce it's aluminum skin.

Smaller meteoroids vaporizing on impact create a plume of plasma thatcan short-circuit spacecraft electronics. However, a short circuit onHubble is unlikely because its electronics are housed inside aluminumboxes that also serve as a meteoroid shield.

The Space Telescope won't be idle during the shower. STScI directorSteven Beckwith is making his discretionary observing time available soastronomers can still observe the heavens while the orbitingobservatory is aimed away from the meteoroid barrage.

Hubble will be aimed at a quasar, the bright core of an active galaxy,approximately 10 billion light-years away. Hubble won't be studyingthe quasar itself but the surrounding galaxies, protogalaxies andprimordial hydrogen clouds between us and the quasar. The quasar is sobrilliant, it is like a searchlight shining through fog.

Strung along billions of light-years, like beads on a string, the gasclouds will be detectable in the way they subtract certain colors orfrequencies of the quasar's light. The observation will help determinewhether the clouds are cold primeval hydrogen or are sites of ongoingstar formation which have been enriched with heavier elements.

Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph will take along-exposure picture to identify galaxies along the sight, and dividethe light into a rainbow of colors (a spectral image) to determinegalaxy distances. This is accomplished by measuring how the light hasbeen stretched or redshifted by the universe's expansion.

Follow-up spectroscopic observations with large ground-basedtelescopes and high-resolution spectrographs will measure the quasarlight directly and identify the distance of the intervening gasclouds.

The redshifts of the gas clouds from the ground-based data will thenbe matched with the redshifts of the galaxies along the line of sightseen in the HST data. These combined observations will allowastronomers to see if galaxies are associated with these invisibleclouds.

LEONID STORM HISTORY

The Leonid meteor storm occurs as Earth passes through a region ofconcentrated, fresh debris within the stream that follows Comet P/55Tempel-Tuttle.

The comet made its last closest passage to the sun in late February ofthis year. Warmed by the sun, the icy comet nucleus spewed a greatdeal of dust into space as its ices melted. These dust particles appearas meteors when they enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up from friction.

The stunning estimates of as many as 10,000 meteors during the 1-hourstorm are based on prior meteor storms that have occurred when the comethas returned to Earth during the past 2 centuries.

Because the comet has a 33-year period, the last shower was onNovember 17, 1966. A brief, 20 minute burst in meteor activity -- asseen from the central and western United States lit up the skies with40 meteors per second!

*****

The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association ofUniversities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) for NASA, undercontract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The SpaceTelescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and theEuropean Space Agency (ESA).

This release and an illustration is available on the Internet athttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/1998/40 and via links inhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/latest.html.

STScI press releases and other information are available by sending anInternet electronic mail message to pio-request@stsci.edu. In the bodyof the message (not the subject line) users should type the word"subscribe" (use no quotes). The system will respond with aconfirmation of the subscription and users will receive new pressreleases as they are issued.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute. "Leonid Meteor Storm Won't Deter Hubble From Space Observations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981111081420.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute. (1998, November 11). Leonid Meteor Storm Won't Deter Hubble From Space Observations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981111081420.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute. "Leonid Meteor Storm Won't Deter Hubble From Space Observations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981111081420.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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