Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

A Search for Meteoroid Lunar Impact Generated Electromagnetic Pulses

  • Saiveena Kesaraju
  • John D. MathewsEmail author
  • Juha Vierinen
  • Phil Perillat
  • David D. Meisel


Lunar white light flashes associated with meteoroid impacts are now regularly observed using modest optical instrumentation. In this paper, we hypothesize that the developing, optically-dense hot ejecta cloud associated with these hypervelocity impacts also produce an associated complex plasma component that rapidly evolves resulting in a highly-transient electro magnetic pulse (EMP) in the VHF/UHF spectral region. Discovery of the characteristics and event frequency of impact EMPs would prove interesting to meteoroid flux and complex plasma physics studies especially if EMPs from the same event are detected from at least two locations on the Earth with relative delays appropriate to the propagation paths. We describe a prototype observational search, conducted in May 2014, for meteoroid lunar-impact EMPs that was conducted using simultaneous, overlapping-band, UHF radio observations at the Arecibo (AO; Puerto Rico) and Haystack (HO, Massachusetts, USA) Observatories. Monostatic/bistatic lunar radar imaging observations were also performed with HO transmitting and HO/AO receiving to confirm tracking, the net delay, and the pointing/timing ephemeris at both observatories. Signal analysis was performed using time–frequency signal processing techniques. Although, we did not conclusively identify EMP returns, this search detected possible EMPs and we have confirmed the search paradigm and established the sensitivity of the AO–HO system in detecting the hypothesized events. We have also characterized the difficult radio-frequency interference environment surrounding these UHF observations. We discuss the wide range of terrestrial-origin, Moon-bounce signals that were observed which additionally validate the observational technique. Further observations are contemplated.


EMP Electromagnetic pulse Moon bounce Lunar impact 



Arecibo observatory


Electromagnetic pulse


Fast Fourier transform


Haystack MISA antenna


Inverse synthetic aperture radar


International Telecommunication Union


Pulse repetition frequency


Radio frequency


Short time Fourier transform


Time domain radio astronomy mode


Terrestrial origin moon bounce


Ultra-high frequency


Universal time



This effort was supported under NSF Grants ATM 07-21613 and AGS 12-02019 to the Pennsylvania State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saiveena Kesaraju
    • 1
  • John D. Mathews
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juha Vierinen
    • 2
  • Phil Perillat
    • 3
  • David D. Meisel
    • 4
  1. 1.Radar Space Sciences Lab, 323 Electrical Engineering EastThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Haystack ObservatoryMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Arecibo ObservatoryAreciboUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physics and AstronomySUNY-GeneseoGeneseoUSA

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