Observations of Leonid Meteors Using a Mid-Wave Infrared Imaging Spectrograph

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We report broadband 3–5.5 µm detections of two Leonid meteors observed during the 1998 Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign. Each meteor was detected at only one position along their trajectory just prior to the point of maximum light emission. We describe the particular aspects of the Aerospace Corp. Mid-wave Infra-Red Imaging Spectrograph (MIRIS) developed for the observation of short duration transient events that impact its ability to detect Leonid meteors. This instrument had its first deployment during the 1998 Leonid MAC. We infer from our observations that the mid-wave IR light curves of two Leonid meteors differed from the visible light curve. At the points of detection, the infrared emission in the MIRIS passband was 25 ± 4 times that at optical wavelengths for both meteors. In addition, we find an upper limit of 800 K for the solid body temperature of the brighter meteor we observed, at the point in the trajectory where we made our mid-wave IR detection.

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