Quantitative Comparison of a New Ab Initio Micrometeor Ablation Model with an Observationally Verifiable Standard Model

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The Arecibo UHF radar is able to detect the head-echos of micron-sized meteoroids up to velocities of 75 km/s over a height range of 80–140 km. Because of their small size there are many uncertainties involved in calculating their above atmosphere properties as needed for orbit determination. An ab initio model of meteor ablation has been devised that should work over the mass range 10−16 kg to 10−7 kg, but the faint end of this range cannot be observed by any other method and so direct verification is not possible. On the other hand, the EISCAT UHF radar system detects micrometeors in the high mass part of this range and its observations can be fit to a “standard” ablation model and calibrated to optical observations (Szasz et al. 2007). In this paper, we present a preliminary comparison of the two models, one observationally confirmable. Among the features of the ab initio model that are different from the “standard” model are: (1) uses the experimentally based low pressure vaporization theory of O'Hanlon (A users's guide to vacuum technology, 2003) for ablation, (2) uses velocity dependent functions fit from experimental data on heat transfer, luminosity and ionization efficiencies measured by Friichtenicht and Becker (NASA Special Publication 319: 53, 1973) for micron sized particles, (3) assumes a density and temperature dependence of the micrometeoroids and ablation product specific heats, (4) assumes a density and size dependent value for the thermal emissivity and (5) uses a unified synthesis of experimental data for the most important meteoroid elements and their oxides through least square fits (as functions of temperature, density, and/or melting point) of the tables of thermodynamic parameters given in Weast (CRC Handbook of Physics and Chemistry, 1984), Gray (American Institute of Physics Handbook, 1972), and Cox (Allen's Astrophysical Quantities 2000). This utilization of mostly experimentally determined data is the main reason for calling this an ab initio model and is made necessary by the fact that individual average meteoroid mass densities are now derivable from Arecibo observations.

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