Which facilities are participating in 2002?
FISTA is a modified NKC135-E aircraft. It has 20 upward-looking window ports oriented at different angles for maximum coverage of the sky. Main instruments are near-Infrared and mid-Infrared spectrometers of Aerospace
Corporation and AFRL. Infrared sensors detect the comparative heat of objects. Spectrometers take the light appart in its colors. FISTA also carries a compliment of visible and ultra-violet spectrometers and
imagers of other researchers for a total of 10 experiments.This US Air Force aircraft is now operated by the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB. The aircraft is named FISTA, for Flying Infrared Signature Technology Aircraft. The aircraft was retired in 2004, shortly after the Genesis SRC entry observing campaign.
The NASA DC-8 Airborne Laboratory Program at NASA/Dryden Flight Research Center
operates a DC-8-72 aircraft to acquire data for airborne science research.
The DC-8 is a medium altitude, moderate to high speed aircraft flying up to 41,000 feet
above sea level between 425 and 490 knots True Air Speed(TAS) and well matched with
FISTA. The DC-8 can accomodate
remote sensing instruments at the zenith, 8 degree, and 62 degree elevation viewports.
There are external antenna attachment mounts, wing pylons, optical windows, and a
gyro stabilized mirror system. The platform will provide the capability for stereoscopic
observations by flying at 100 km distance from FISTA, and is planned to provide near-real
time flux measurements and remote sensing experiments targeted at atmospheric research.
Why an airborne mission?
The concept is to bring together scientists from different disciplines and cooperatively observe the meteors using a wide range of techniques. Only an airborne mission can bring
scientists to the right place at the right time to view the Leonids, and guarantee clear weather. Leonid MAC is a short timeframe, low-cost, high-yield
research endeavor that takes advantage of off-the-shelf equipment and mission- ready research aircraft. The mission centers around a research aircraft that
will serve as observing platform for video cameras and scientific instruments.
The 2002 Leonid MAC mission follows highly successful
airborne missions in 1999 and
which gathered a bounty of scientific data during what were the first
meteor storms since the 1966, and the first to be observed by modern observing
techniques. Rates increased to 4,000 meteors per hour in 1999 and 1,300 per hour in 2001.
The 2002 campaign can potentially double this sample by observing two more storms
with expected peak rates of about 4,000 and 5,000 per hour.
An airborne mission makes it possible to:
ÿý Avoid poor November weather by flying above the clouds
ÿý Avoid scattering of light by dust and air for Lidar and UV observations
ÿý Rise above low-altitude haze for a clear and transparent sky
ÿý Rise above water vapor blocking near- and mid- infrared wavelengths