A "radar micrometeor" is the radar-scattering signature from the free electrons in the plasma generated by entry of a dust-sized meteoroid into the atmosphere. We report the first direct Doppler measurements, made using the Arecibo Observatory 430-MHz radar, of the so-called meteor head echo. Our observations demonstrate that this region is moving with the speed of the meteoroid as determined from the meteor head-echo altitude-time trajectory and that this radar return is distinct spatially and in velocity from the much more commonly observed trail echo. We also report the first observations of near-antapex micrometeors which are characterized by the very slow atmospheric speeds expected from low-ecliptic-inclination objects entering the atmosphere from behind Earth's orbital path. Of the 32 meteors observed during four early evening hours of observations on 10 January 1997, velocities were determined for 18 of the meteors of which 7 were at or just below Earth escape velocity (11.2 km/s). We give heliocentric orbits for the 11 meteor events with speeds greater than the escape velocity and present a detailed analysis of these orbital parameters and their possible origins. One particle was determined to be interstellar: a preliminary analysis indicates that the ecliptic coordinates of the radiant relative to the local standard of rest (LSR) (with the solar motion relative to the nearby stars removed) are λ=43.02°, β=-43.28°, V=-25.11 km/s or, in system II galactic coordinates lII=219.8°, bII=-52.4°, V=-25.1 km/s.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science