Meteor is a new International Space Station (ISS) payload. From a window in the floor of the U.S. Destiny lab module, the Meteor experiment will use a visible-light spectrometer to capture high-resolution video of meteoroids as they enter Earth’s atmosphere. A new camera will give scientists their first space-based look at the chemical composition of meteors.
The Meteor investigation takes high-resolution video and images of the atmosphere and uses a software program to search for bright spots, which can later be analyzed on the ground. Meteor uses image analysis to provide information on the physical and chemical properties of the meteoroid dust, such as size, density, and chemical composition. Since the parent comets or asteroids for most of the meteor showers are identified, the study of the meteoroid dust on orbit provides information about the parent comets and asteroids. Meteor plans to operate for 2 years (as allowed by science priorities) in the WORF volume.
The Meteor camera is equipped with IR cut filer, which provides visible light only, up to 700 nm. The visible light is sufficient for spectral analyses to obtain the meteors’ elemental composition, because the atomic emission lines of major elements are located within the visible wavelengths as follows Fe (370nm), Ca (393nm), Mg (518nm) and Na (589nm).
The WORF window has limited (~21%) transmittance at the 370 nm wavelength but is still useful for this study. On-orbit there are no distortions caused by weather and atmospheric disturbances which affect ground-based observation. Therefore, flux data collected on-orbit allows for better comparison of data from observed meteor showers. The objectives for the Meteor payload include:
- The periods around the peak of major meteor showers are the highest priority for observations.
- Periods outside of the peak of major meteor
- Minor meteor showers
- Periods with little or no regular meteor activity identified
Tertiary (Targets of Opportunity)
- Observation of de-orbiting spacecraft
- Daytime terrestrial targets at the request of NASA
The Meteor investigation provides the first space-based measurement of meteor flux. It also allows for the monitoring of carbon-based compounds. Continuous measurement of meteor interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere could also spot previously unforeseen meteors.