Earth Prepares for Incoming Leonids

By Keith Cowing
November 18, 1999
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As the Leonid meteor shower approaches, many satellite operators are rushing to be certain that they have taken all prudent measures to minimize the possibility that their satellites could be damaged by impacts with meteorites. Meanwhile, others are gearing up to study the scientific aspects of this phenomenon.

You can check up on the Leonids at NASA MSFC’s “Leonids Live” and MSFC
s Space Science News; at Leonid Mac’99 at NASA ARC, at ESA’s Space Science website, Gary Kronk’s Comets and Meteor Showers website, Sky & Telescope magazine, Leonid Storm, the North American Meteor Network, and at the Aerospace Corporation.

Press releases from ESA, the SOHO management team, the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology in Canada, and Discovery Online describe safety precautions and scientific preparations currently underway.

Another press release from NASA Ames Research Center describes how astrobiologists will be flying over the Atlantic ocean studying the chemistry of Leonid meteors from an airborne observatory while a press release from ESA describes how one scientist will keep a diary of his observations of the Leonids from that observatory and a British scientist will do the same and report for the BBC.

According to AP and Reuters the first Leonids activity peaked at 40 meteors per hour and Israel and the Arabian desert got quite a show. In the midwest U.S. a large, bright fireball was seen by thousands. Meanwhile NASA astronomers and astrobiologists flying in two jets over Europe report that they were able to get good data from those meteors and that the high rate this early in the shower could be indicative of much heavier activity to come.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.