JEM-EUSO: Meteor and nuclearite observations
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Meteor and fireball observations are key to the derivation of both the inventory and physical characterization of small solar system bodies orbiting in the vicinity of the Earth. For several decades, observation of these phenomena has only been possible via ground-based instruments. The proposed JEM-EUSO mission has the potential to become the first operational space-based platform to share this capability. In comparison to the observation of extremely energetic cosmic ray events, which is the primary objective of JEM-EUSO, meteor phenomena are very slow, since their typical speeds are of the order of a few tens of km/sec (whereas cosmic rays travel at light speed). The observing strategy developed to detect meteors may also be applied to the detection of nuclearites, which have higher velocities, a wider range of possible trajectories, but move well below the speed of light and can therefore be considered as slow events for JEM-EUSO. The possible detection of nuclearites greatly enhances the scientific rationale behind the JEM-EUSO mission.
KeywordsMeteors Nuclearites JEM-EUSO Space detectors
This work was partially supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Direction for the Cultural Promotion and Cooperation. Discussions with some meteor experts, including Jiri Borowicka, Pete Jenniskens and Jeremy Vaubaillon were helpful and stimulating. The intelligent comments of two anonymous referees led also to major improvements of our original manuscript.
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