The ESOC “Meteor Alert Center” (MALC) and Its Application during the 1999 Leonid Shower

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Spacecraft operators were concerned that the high number density of meteoroid particles during the anticipated 1999 Leonid meteor storm might result in damage to spacecraft. Switching off a spacecraft is expensive and operators try to avoid it, which created a need for real time monitoring systems. At the Space Science Department of ESA, we designed a near-real time meteor monitoring system, displaying observational information at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The system consisted of software tools that connect automatic video systems in the field with a central data node. Here, we describe the design, implementation, setup and results of the system. Wireless communication was implemented by means of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication. Unfortunately, during the operational phase this communication system failed. Conventional transmission by telephone was used instead. Results of the near real time reporting are presented and discussed.

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