Meteor Science in the UK

 The 22 July Canterbury meteor as seen from Richmond
The 22 July Canterbury meteor as seen from Richmond
Greg Price
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End Date

The Earth is constantly bombarded by icy and rocky materials derived from comets, asteroids, and other planetary bodies. Understanding the physical and dynamical properties of these interplanetary visitors is crucial to unravelling the 4.6-billion-year history of our solar system.

An extraterrestrial fragment entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere produces a glowing streak in the sky known as a meteor. Recording a meteor with multiple cameras in different locations enables the size, velocity, and trajectory of the particle to be calculated. Larger objects (>1 m) produce bright fireballs and potentially result in meteorites reaching the ground. Fireball observations can be used to reconstruct an object’s pre-atmospheric orbit and estimate the location of any meteorites, minimising damaging exposure to the terrestrial environment. Over the last ~10 years there has been a rapid expansion in meteor and fireball camera networks across the world and a significant increase in the number of recovered meteorite falls.

In the UK there are six dedicated camera networks providing good coverage of the night sky. Together the networks form the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFAll), generating and sharing the large datasets required to investigate the contemporary sources of extraterrestrial materials to the Earth. The power of this collaborative effort was recently demonstrated in dramatic fashion by the rapid recovery of the Winchcombe meteorite. Winchcombe is the first carbonaceous chondrite ever recovered in the UK, the first UK meteorite fall to be recovered for 30 years, and one of only ~40 meteorites, out of a worldwide collection of ~65,000, for which a pre-atmospheric orbit has been determined.

 The aim of this meeting is to bring together professional and amateur meteor scientists to discuss and promote the UK’s leadership in this field. The meeting will provide a timely update on the latest breakthroughs in meteor and fireball science, horizon-scan for future research opportunities, and facilitate networking with our international partners. Discussions will focus on sustainable growth of meteor camera networks and provide a chance to share experiences related to meteorite recovery efforts, public outreach activities and citizen-science projects. The meeting will engage both the astronomy and laboratory communities, identifying new areas for cross-disciplinary science and building new research networks.



Ashley King (NHM)

Luke Daly (University of Glasgow)

Jim Rowe (UKFAII