First Results of High-Definition TV Spectroscopic Observations of the 1999 Leonid Meteor Shower

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During the 1999 Leonids, an intensified HDTV camera was used for slitless meteor spectroscopy at visible and near-UV wavelengths in three night flights of the Leonid Multi-instrument Aircraft Campaign. The IIDTV system provided a high dynamic range (digital 10-bit) and a wide field of view of 37 × 21 degrees. The maximum spectral sensitivity is at 405 nm, while the resolving power of the spectrograph was λ/Δλ ∼ 250. Here, we report on the results for one particularly nice spectrum from a Leonid meteor at 03:24:40 UT. Numerous atomic emission lines of magnesium and iron were detected, with an excitation temperature of T = 5,000 ± 1,000. It is confirmed that sodium is released from the meteoroid earlier than iron and magnesium, just as in meteors of the 1998 Leonid shower. Rovibrational bands of N2 dominate the spectrum in the visible and near-IR. We searched for CN band emission at 389 nm, but could not detect it due to the overlap of numerous iron lines.

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