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Proceedings Paper

Detection of the large meteoroid/NEO flux using infrasound: recent detection of the November 21, 1995, Colorado fireball
Author(s): Douglas O. ReVelle; Rodney W. Whitaker
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Paper Abstract

During the early morning of November 21, 1995, a fireball as bright as the full moon entered the atmosphere over southeastern Colorado and initially produced audible sonic boom reports from Texas to Wyoming. The event was detected locally by a security video camera which showed the reflection of the fireball event on the hood of a truck. The camera also recorded tree shadows cast by the light of the fireball. This recording includes the audio signal of a strong double boom as well. Subsequent investigation of the array near Los Alamos, New Mexico operated by the Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of its commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations, showed the presence of an infrasonic signal from the proper direction at about the correct time for this fireball. The Los Alamos array is a four-element infrasonic system in near-continuous operation on the laboratory property. The nominal spacing between the array elements is 212 m. The basic sensor is a Globe Universal Sciences Model 100C microphone whose response is flat from about 0.1 to 300 Hz (which we filter at the high frequency end to be limited to 20 Hz). Each low frequency microphone is connected to a set of twelve porous hoses to reduce wind noise. The characteristics of the observed signal include the onset arrival time of 0939:20 UT (0239:20 MST), with a maximum timing uncertainty of plus or minus 2 minutes, the signal onset time delay from the appearance of the fireball of 21 minutes, 20 seconds, total signal duration of 2 minutes 10 seconds, the source location determined to be toward 31 degrees from true north, the horizontal trace velocity of 429 m/sec, the signal velocity of 0.29 plus or minus 0.03 km/sec, assuming a 375 km horizontal range to the fireball, the dominant signal frequency content of 0.25 to 0.84 Hz (analyzed in the frequency interval from 0.2 to 2.0 Hz), the maximum signal cross-correlation of 0.97 and the maximum signal amplitude of 2.0 plus or minus 0.1 microbars. Also, on the basis of the signal period at maximum amplitude, we estimate a probable source energy for this event of between 10 to 100 tons of TNT (53.0 tons nominal).

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 October 1996
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 2813, Characteristics and Consequences of Orbital Debris and Natural Space Impactors, (31 October 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.256073
Show Author Affiliations
Douglas O. ReVelle, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)
Rodney W. Whitaker, Los Alamos National Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2813:
Characteristics and Consequences of Orbital Debris and Natural Space Impactors
Timothy D. Maclay; Firooz A. Allahdadi, Editor(s)

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