Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Meteoroid Environment and Meteoroid Properties

Supervisor: Dr. Margaret Campbell-Brown

Project: The Meteoroid Environment from Optical Observations

Can extend to MSc?:  Yes

Project Description (Abstract):

From a practical standpoint, the number, size and speed of meteoroids striking the Earth every day is important to characterizing the risk they pose to spacecraft. From a scientific standpoint, the meteoroid environment gives clues to the properties and distribution of comets and asteroids in near-Earth space over the last few tens of thousands of years. Optical observations have advantages over radar and other meteor observations, but still suffer observing biases, including observations restricted to the night side of the Earth and greater sensitivity to faster, brighter objects. These biases must be thoroughly characterized in order to understand the true size and speed distributions of meteoroids.

This project will use five years of optical data collected since 2011, and investigate the effects of each observing bias on the measured distribution.

Project: Meteoroid Fragmentation from High-Resolution Observations

Can extend to MSc?:  Yes

Project Description (Abstract):

It is very difficult to determine the structure of small (cm to mm sized) pieces of comets and asteroids striking the Earth, because they are destroyed very rapidly in the atmosphere. The strength and structure of meteoroids is particularly interesting, since they allow us to sample a wide range of small bodies we otherwise cannot reach. The Canadian Automated Meteor Observatory includes a tracking system which observes small meteoroids ablating in the atmosphere at a resolution of the order of meters, allowing details of fragmentation to be observed.

The project will use data from thousands of tracked meteors to characterize how and under what circumstances meteoroids fragment, and use these observations to draw conclusions about the structure of meteoroids.

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