Australian comet hunters capture a meteorite storm

In a global news, an Australian company has captured substantial data from a meteor shower that will have a significant impact on space science.

Last week, Earth entered a stream of cometary debris following the recent fragmentation of Comet 73P / Schwassman-Wachman 3, which occurred 27 years ago in 1995.

It was the first opportunity in recent history to observe the remains of a recently fragmented comet.

Rocket Technologies International (RTI), in collaboration with the University of South Queensland, led a team of scientists from the IMCCE (Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Computing, Paris Observatory, PSL), HEFDiG Group of High Enthalpy Flow Diagnostics, Institute of Space Systems, University of Stuttgart) and Comenius University in Bratislava, on the mission.

The team developed and applied a series of scientific systems to imagine meteor showers through the windows of a Phenom 300 aircraft, capturing images during a three-hour flight at 40,000 feet. The air mission complemented ground observation equipment, capturing clear images of air pollution.

The team of researchers and experts captured data from hundreds of objects passing through the atmosphere at speeds above 12 km / s. The mission was carried out to gain a new understanding of comet objects, including their composition, physical properties, and flight trajectories.

The results of this mission include the number of meteors per time, meteorite spectra, and 3D trajectory data.

The Australian-owned data will be shared with the international community by RTI and the University of South Queensland, who are analyzing the data in collaboration with international partners.

Dr. Fabian Zander, a rocket scientist at the University of South Queensland, said the mission and data collection had opened up a world of information.

“Although the possible meteor shower has been predicted for some time, the decision to fly an aerial observation mission was only made two weeks earlier,” Dr. Zander said.

“This demonstrates the team’s ability and flexibility to mount a complex aerial observation mission in a very short time.”

The University of South Queensland said in a statement that the success of the mission demonstrates Australia’s “sovereign ability to lead and execute research projects of international importance with the support of state and federal governments”.

Since October 2018, RTI has launched its space trip, establishing its rocket testing facility in Helidon, Queensland.

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