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Leonid MAC

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1998 Leonid MAC

1998 Leonid MAC mission group photo

Group photo of part of the Electra and FISTA teams. Courtesy: Sandy Nierman.


Electra aircraft approaching Moffett Field Steve Butow
welcomes Bruce Moreley

The NSF/NCAR Electra aircraft approaching the Ames runway at Moffett Field on November 5 (right), signaling the start of the 1998 Leonid MAC mission. Capt. Steve Butow welcomes mission coordinator Dr. Bruce Moreley of NCAR.

two planes on tarmac view of Electra aircraft from behind FISTA aircraft Maj. Lamarche of the USAF/18th OSS

Electra and FISTA parked at Kadena AFB in Okinawa on November 17. Maj. Lamarche of the USAF/18th OSS discusses with Capt. Butow the logistic effort at Kadena AFB.

Lidar mounted inside Electra aircraft University of Illinois
researchers working on Lidar University of Illinois 
researchers group photo

The main instrument onboard the Electra aircraft: the two-beam Iron Bolzmann Lidar of the University of Illinois at Urbana. This instrument consists of two lasers that send light pulses up to the meteor layer at two different wavelengths. Two large telescopes watch the tip of the laser beams and record when the light is absorbed and re-emitted by iron atoms, or scattered by dust. The time it takes the light pulse to go up and down determines the distance to the absorbing iron atoms or scattering dust. This technique allows the detection of meteor atom debris trails and the background iron debris layer. The instrument is used to weigh meteors and measure the chemical and physical timescale on which iron atoms react with the atmosphere or are otherwise removed from the trails and the debris layer. The images show Xinzhao Chu and Weilin Pan of the University of Illinois tuning the lidar. The 5 person strong team of the University of Illinois (right) took pride in their participation. Instrument PI, Dr. Chet Gardner, was crucial in making it possible to have Electra participate in the mission.

airglow Gary Swenson and
Beverly Allan at work University of East Anglia telescope

Dr. Gary Swenson of the University of Illinois while operating the airglow camera (right, behind an optical glass dome), and Beverley Allan of the University of East Anglia while tuning the UEA spectrometer (left, mounted on a specially built gimbal).

cooled CCD meteor spectrograph NHK team NCAR team in meeting
Left, Mike Wilson operating the SETI Institute high-resolution meteor spectrograph. The Japanese Broadcasting Company (NHK) contributed High-definition TV cameras. The Electra camera was mounted in the ceiling of the aircraft and protected from vibrations by a special mount. Right, the Electra crew of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Research Aviation Facility in Broomfield, Colorado, in a pre-event meeting, discussing the use of the two intensified cameras for meteor imaging on the Electra aircraft.



FISTA aircraft at Edwards AFB
At the 452nd Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, experimenters just finished the instrument installations on FISTA.

safety instructions
Before takeoff, instructions on the use of oxygen bottles (the green bags carried by the researchers), the use of the intercom system (the headphones) and general safety issues.

George Rossano operates MIRIS spectrograph
Dr. George Rossano of Aerospace Corporation operating the new MIRIS spectrograph, who got its maiden flight during Leonid MAC. The spectrograph aimed to record meteors at wavelengths between 3 and 5.5 micron and was one of two mid-IR spectrographs contributed by the Aerospace Corporation. These instruments were the most ambitious onboard the FISTA mission and involved cooling with liquid nitrogen and helium in order to detect the heat of meteors.

Sandy Niermann examines results
from Michelson spectrometer
Dr. Sandy Niermann of AFRL examines the results from the Michelson spectrometers. An experienced airborne researcher and member of the FISTA program, Sandy and her team have spread the bed for the other researchers on board FISTA. This instrument was one of several that are routinely flown on FISTA and aimed at high resolution spectroscopy of persistent trains.

Kobe University team operate
CCD camera
Dr. Ryosuke Nakamura and assistant Yasumasa Fujii of the University of Kobe, Japan, operate a CCD camera for the measurement of the faint glow of scattered sunlight off the particles in space. The finest grains are most efficient in scattering sunlight and this experiment aims to measure the content of grains in the shower that are too small to be detected as meteors. The glow has only been reported in anecdotes of past storms and has never been recorded.

NHK team operates HD TV camera
Mr. Satoshi Yamaguchi of the Japanese Broadcasting Company, NHK, adjusts an intensified high-definition TV camera for high resolution images of meteors and trains in an experiment by Dr. Hajime Yano. Two intensified cameras on FISTA and Electra aim to observe the meteors from in stereoscopic manner for the determination of trajectories and orbits.

Mission crew
The mission crew of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron makes sure that all activities proceed safely and the researchers are in close contact by intercom at all times.

Jiri Borovicka operates slit-less spectrograph
Dr. Jiri Borovicka of the Czech Republic, an expert in meteor spectroscopy, operates a spectrometer at one of the FISTA windows.

Project Scientist Dr. Peter Jenniskens
A satisfied Project Scientist Dr. Peter Jenniskens, with Ian Murray behind him, after a successful test flight on November 9 over Edwards Air Force Base.


Preparations for the campaign

Group photo meteor observers at European Southern Observatory Team of astronomers preparing to observe the 1997 Leonids from the European Southern Observatory, Chile (81K). Posing in front of the 3.6, CAT, NTT, and 2.2m telescopes, from left to right are the astronomers: (down:) Agnes Lebre, Jean Mouette, Giacomo Mulas, (top:) Stephane Guisand, Peter Jenniskens, Renaud Moliton, and Licio da Silva. Not in the image are participants Jiri Borovicka, Matthew Shetrone and Paul Goudfrooij. Image courtesy: Peter Jenniskens (NASA/ARC).

group photo Dutch Meteor Society ground team Team of amateur astronomers of the Dutch Meteor Society, preparing to observe the 1995 Leonid outburst. Image courtesy of Hans Betlem (DMS).

visual observers ready to view meteor shower Visual observers of the Dutch Meteor Society team in Almedinilla (southern Spain) during a practise and photo-shoot prior to the Leonid night of November 16/17, 1995. Photo: courtesy of Hans Betlem (DMS).

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