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Radio and Meteor Science Outcomes From Comparisons of Meteor Radar Observations at AMISR Poker Flat, Sondrestrom, and Arecibo


Radio science and meteor physics issues regarding meteor “head-echo” observations with high power, large aperture (HPLA) radars, include the frequency and latitude dependency of the observed meteor altitude, speed, and deceleration distributions. We address these issues via the first ever use and analysis of meteor observations from the Poker Flat AMISR (PFISR: 449.3 MHz), Sondrestrom (SRF: 1,290 MHz), and Arecibo (AO: 430 MHz) radars. The PFISR and SRF radars are located near the Arctic Circle while AO is in the tropics. The meteors observed at each radar were detected and analyzed using the same automated FFT periodic micrometeor searching algorithm. Meteor parameters (event altitude, velocity, and deceleration distributions) from all three facilities are compared revealing a clearly defined altitude “ceiling effect” in the 1,290 MHz results relative to the 430/449.3 MHz results. This effect is even more striking in that the Arecibo and PFISR distributions are similar even though the two radars are over 2,000 times different in sensitivity and at very different latitudes, thus providing the first statistical evidence that HPLA meteor radar observations are dominated by the incident wavelength, regardless of the other radar parameters. We also offer insights into the meteoroid fragmentation and “terminal” process.

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This effort was supported under NSF Grants ATM 04-13009 and ITR/AP 04-27029 to the Pennsylvania State University. The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, which is operated by Cornell University under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The Sondrestrom Research Facility and Poker Flat AMISR-32 radar are operated by SRI under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to J. D. Mathews.

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Mathews, J.D., Briczinski, S.J., Meisel, D.D. et al. Radio and Meteor Science Outcomes From Comparisons of Meteor Radar Observations at AMISR Poker Flat, Sondrestrom, and Arecibo. Earth Moon Planet 102, 365–372 (2008).

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