What's Up in Space -- 19 Nov 2001
Leonids 2001 Meteor Gallery
Sky watchers who saw it will never forget it: the 2001 Leonid meteor storm.
The display began on Sunday morning, Nov. 18th, when Earth glided into a dust cloud shed by comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1766. Thousands of meteors per hour rained over North America and Hawaii. Then, on Monday morning Nov. 19th (local time in Asia), it happened again: Earth entered a second cometary debris cloud from Tempel-Tuttle. Preliminary reports from China, Korea and Japan indicate 2,000 to 6,000 meteors per hour -- possibly more -- falling over east Asian countries and Australia.
19 November 2001
Leonids over the Carribean: an on-the-spot report
"As Leo ascended into the sky the rate of meteors increased. At 2.45 a.m
the first fireball exploded in front of the ship with a searing bright
Read our on-the-spot report from our correspondant in the Carribean.
The first peak was observed from the U.S.:
Visual estimates from Apache Point and Hawaii.
A second peak with Zenith Hourly Rates as high as 2000 was observed
Leonids Flux Measurements from Alice Springs, Australia
Sunday, 18 November 2001
Andrew Chatman of Pittsford, NY made these stunning pictures of the Leonids. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.
Shot with an Olympus E20 on a tripod with cable remote control, 25 second exposures, ISO 80, White Balance 6500K, F/2.0. Dark frame subtraction in Photoshop used to reduce noise.
Shooting location: Pittsford, NY (suburb of Rochester).
Shooting time: 4:15 - 6:00 EST
Copyright 2001: Andrew Chatman
16 November 2001
The Leonids meteor shower - best one yet?
This year's Leonid meteor shower may well be one to remember. Astronomers are predicting a storm of meteors, or shooting stars, perhaps up to 15000 per hour on the night of 18-19 November, and spacecraft operators are standing by. Unfortunately, for those of us in Europe the Leonids will be below the horizon at that time. ESA scientists have gone 'down under' to catch the light show.
November 15, 2001
Leonids 2001 - The Adventure Down Under
Operation Leonids Meteor Storm: ESA Scientists Search For Shooting Stars In The Southern Hemisphere The Leonid meteors are coming - again! And this time, ESA scientists will be avidly awaiting their arrival from the other side of the world, in the Australian outback.
In addition to their studies of the meteor shower, the team intends to test a new prototype of an instrument that is being developed for future planetary missions to Mars, Mercury and the Moon.
Over the next few weeks, their adventures and discoveries will be posted on the ESA science web site. In the meantime, read about why they are going to Australia and what they intend to do there.
Visit this special feature at: http://sci2.esa.int/leonids/leonids2001/
NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Nov. 14, 2001
NASA LEONIDS ACTIVITIES: SLEEPYHEADS MAY MISS
SPECTACULAR CELESTIAL DISPLAY
Early birds may catch more than their proverbial worms
this week. In the predawn hours of Sunday, Nov.18, the annual
Leonid meteor shower may put on one of its best shows in
decades, according to various scientists modeling the
expected Leonid activity this year.
"It's time to set your alarm clocks and get yourself out under a dark sky," said Dr. Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object program office, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This could be the last opportunity for watching an impressive meteor storm in a dark sky for decades to come."
Meteors, also called shooting stars, are really streaks of light that flash across the sky as bits of dust and rock in space collide with the Earth's upper atmosphere and vaporize. The Leonid shower appears every year around Nov. 17 or 18 as the Earth intersects the orbit of comet Tempel-Tuttle and runs into streams of dust shed by the comet. Best viewing times this year are predicted to be the early morning hours of November 18, with the peak activity expected around 5 a.m. EST.
They are called Leonid meteors for the direction in the sky from which they appear to originate -- the constellation Leo. Because the stream of comet dust hits the Earth almost head- on, the Leonids are among the fastest meteors around -- they zip silently across the sky at 44 miles per second. Every so often, the Earth passes through an especially dense clump of dust from Tempel-Tuttle, and a truly spectacular meteor storm occurs -- the great Leonid storm of 1966 produced 150,000 meteors per hour.
Four NASA centers -- Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. -- have activities scheduled around this year's meteor shower.
At Marshall, researchers will use special cameras to scan the skies and report meteor activity around the clock Nov. 17 and 18. From six key points on the globe, they will record and transmit their observations to Marshall's Leonid Environment Operations Center, a data clearinghouse that will provide meteor updates in near real-time through: SpaceWeather.com -- a Web site sponsored by email@example.com.
"We're collecting this data to analyze and refine our meteor- forecasting techniques," said Dr. Rob Suggs, the Leonid Environment Operations Center team leader. "If we can better determine where, when and how the meteors will strike, we can take protective measures to prevent or minimize damage to our spacecraft."
The researchers, along with colleagues from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and the U.S. Air Force, will monitor the storm from six locations, Huntsville, Ala.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Maui, Hawaii; Sunspot, N.M.; the U.S. Territory of Guam; and the Gobi Dessert in Mongolia. Each location was selected based on meteor forecasts and the area's climate.
The monitoring team also has the capability to detect meteors the casual observer may miss. Using special image-intensified cameras that can detect faint objects even in low-light conditions, the researchers will monitor the shower, using the video screens as windows to the skies. Every hour, the teams will relay their observations to the Marshall control center, helping to paint a comprehensive picture of the meteor storm.
Most Leonid particles are the size of dust grains, and will vaporize very high in the atmosphere, so they present no threat to people on the ground or even in airplanes. However, there is a slight chance that a satellite could be damaged if it were hit by a Leonid meteor. The meteors are too small to simply blow up a satellite. However, the Leonids are moving so fast they vaporize on impact, forming a cloud of electrified gas called plasma. Since plasma can carry an electric current, there is a risk that a Leonid-generated plasma cloud could cause a short circuit in a satellite, damaging sensitive electronic components.
Goddard Space Flight Center is responsible for controlling many satellites for NASA and other organizations and is taking precautions to mitigate the risk posed by the Leonids. These include pointing instrument apertures away from the direction of the Leonid stream, closing the doors on instruments where possible, turning down high voltages on systems to prevent the risk of a short circuit, and positioning satellites to minimize the cross-section exposed to the Leonids.
Goddard controls or manages 21 satellites in the earth and space sciences. It also manages NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System constellation, which is controlled from White Sands, N.M.
At Ames, meteor experts Dr. David Morrison, chief scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute, and Dr. Scott Sanford, a NASA planetary scientist, will be available Friday, Nov. 16, at Ames for media interviews about the Leonid meteor storm. The scientists will discuss NASA's airborne mission to study the Leonids, the danger the meteors could pose to satellites, recent Leonid prediction models and the latest research, which suggests that meteors may have played a role in the origin of life.
On Nov. 18, a team of 19 astrobiologists from five countries will depart from southern California's Edwards Air Force Base on an NKC-135 research aircraft to keep an eye on the sky for satellite operators and to study the processes that may have jump-started life on Earth. The 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base operates the research aircraft, which flew previous Leonid Multi-instrument Airborne Campaign (MAC) missions in 1998 and 1999 over Japan and Europe.
Many scientists think meteors might have showered the Earth with the molecules necessary for life's origin. "We are eager to get another chance to find clues to the puzzling question of 'What happens to the organic matter brought in by the meteoroids?'" said Dr. Michael Meyer, lead scientist for astrobiology at NASA Headquarters, Washington, which is sponsoring the airborne observing mission.
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. Ames is NASA's lead center for astrobiology and the location of the central offices of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, an international research consortium.
Information about the Leonid Multi-instrument Airborne Campaign (MAC) and live Leonid coverage are available at: http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov/ or http://www-space.arc.nasa.gov/~leonid/
Observers can calculate local meteor rates using their home computers via: http://www-space.arc.nasa.gov/~leonid/estimator.html.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will host a webcast with Yeomans explaining what the Leonids are and how to see them on the JPL Web site
NASA TV will broadcast live commentary and video of the Leonids from 12:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 18. The broadcast, originating from Marshall, will feature live video of the Leonids meteor shower provided by a video camera with enhanced images and animation. If weather and cloud cover inhibit observation, the broadcast will be cancelled and regular programming resumed.
Marshall Space Flight Center News Release
Nov. 13, 2001
Across the globe and around the clock, NASA engineers to track and share
From Mongolia to Maui, researchers from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala., will use special cameras to scan the skies and report
meteor activity around the clock during the Nov. 17-18 Leonids shower.
From six key points on the globe, they will record and transmit their observations to the Marshall Center's Leonid Environment Operations Center - a data clearinghouse that will provide meteor updates in near real-time intervals through the NASA Web site: SpaceWeather.com, a website sponsored by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Led by the Engineering Directorate at the Marshall Center, the effort is part of a long-term goal to protect spacecraft such as NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory from dazzling - but potentially damaging - meteoroids. "We're collecting this data to analyze and refine our meteor forecasting techniques," said Dr. Rob Suggs, the Leonid Environment Operations Center team leader. "If we can better determine where, when and how the meteors will strike, we can take protective measures to prevent or minimize damage to our spacecraft."
Those protective measures can range from turning a satellite so its most sensitive surface faces the direction of minimal exposure, to shutting down a spacecraft's electronic operations until the storm has passed.
"Good planning is essential, because in many cases, your only opportunity to protect the spacecraft is before the first meteor strikes," Suggs said. "For example, Chandra's orbit takes it one third of the way to the Moon, and its flight plans are uploaded days ahead of time. Once a meteor storm has begun, it's often too late to do anything about it."
Even though today's satellites are engineered to withstand daily meteoroid strikes, the risk of damage is a bit different for high-speed meteoroid streams, according to Dr. Jeff Anderson of Marshall's Engineering Directorate.
"The 'plasma effect' is more important," he said. "When a meteoroid hits a satellite, it can heat the impact site to thousands of degrees Kelvin - rivaling the surface temperature of the Sun. The entire meteoroid is vaporized along with a tiny bit of the spacecraft."
Considering that meteors are only about the size of a grain of sand, their potential for damage can be surprising. Their speed must also be considered. "They're small, but they move very fast - about 45 miles per second (71 kilometers per second)," said Dr. Bill Cooke of the Marshall Center, who -- along with researchers at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario -- generated one of the primary meteor forecast models NASA is evaluating.
According to Cooke's forecast, sky-gazers could see up to 1,400 meteors per hour if they are away from city lights, where the sky is dark enough to see the faint, as well as more brilliant, meteors. In the Eastern United States, the shower is predicted to peak near dawn, while in the Western United States, it is expected to peak around 2 a.m. PST.
A Leonid shower happens every year when Earth passes close to the orbit of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle and the debris left in the comet's path. This year it is expected to be exceptionally strong because of the timing and position of the comet tails.
The material crossing Earth's path this year was ejected from the comet at least 100 years ago. Meteor viewers in the United States, for example, will see material ejected from the comet in 1766 - a decade before the country was founded.
The NASA researchers, along with colleagues from the University of Western Ontario and the U.S. Air Force, will monitor the storm from six locations, each selected based on meteor forecasts and the area's climate. Sites include Huntsville, Ala.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Maui, Hawaii; Sunspot, N.M.; the U.S. Territory of Guam, and the Gobi Dessert in Mongolia.
Thanks to special equipment, the monitoring team has the capability to detect meteors the visual observer may miss. Using special image-intensified cameras that can detect faint objects even in low-light conditions, the researchers will monitor the shower, using the video screens as windows to the skies. Every hour, the teams will relay their observations to the Marshall control center, helping to paint a comprehensive picture of the meteor storm.
Another tool at Marshall's disposal is "forward-scatter radar" - a system built by Suggs, Cooke and Anderson to monitor near-Earth meteoroid activity around the clock.
"Our system is pretty simple," said Suggs. "We use an antenna and computer-controlled shortwave receiver to listen for 67 MHz signals from distant TV stations."
The transmitters are over the horizon and normally out of range. But when a meteor streaks overhead the system records a brief ping - the echo of a TV signal bouncing off the meteor's trail. Like the cameras, this system is capable of detecting meteors too dim to see with the unaided eye.
The Marshall Center has provided Leonid forecast information to dozens of spacecraft operators to help prepare for this year's meteor shower. "More importantly, by comparing the meteor shower predictions to the actual meteor counts, we are laying the groundwork to improve forecasts in the future," said Suggs.
NASA Science News for November 8, 2001
On Sunday morning, Nov. 18, 2001, sky watchers somewhere will see a
dazzling storm of Leonid meteors. Read this story and find out how you
can be one of them.
Thursday's Classroom for Nov. 8, 2001
The upcoming Leonid meteor shower could be one of the best in decades. It's an opportunity to impress your students with happenings in the night sky and, perhaps, to transform some TV watchers into life-long sky watchers. Today's episode of Thursday's Classroom features lessons and activities that will build anticipation for the meteor shower and help you prepare to observe it. Visit Thursday's Classroom for details.
November 5, 2001
LOOK FOR THE LEONIDS!
A cascade of meteors, which are the dust tracks of a comet's path,
will be visible in the skies November 18.
Every 33 years, Comet Tempel-Tuttle travels through the inner solar system. The comet, which is basically a ball of dust and ice, last passed close to the Sun and was visible from Earth in March 1998. Near the Sun, the comet's ices begin to vaporize and the embedded dust particles fall away and trail the comet in its orbit. Every year, Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by the comet, and the comet dust particles plunge into Earth's atmosphere at some 71 kilometers (44 miles) per second -- fast enough to travel from Los Angeles to New York in about one minute.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, Earth will again travel through the tail of dust from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. As the dust particles -- tiny meteoroids -- burn up in Earth's atmosphere, they give the appearance of "shooting stars," called meteors. This display, known as the Leonid meteor shower, may be most visible over both North America and Asia. That's because two separate maxima are predicted.
This year, the Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak twice -- once on Sunday, November 18 around 10:00 UT which favours American observers and again on the same day around 18:00 UT which will be too late for American observers but favourable for observers in Australia and Asia. The Moon won't interfere this year as it is only three days past New Moon.
Here are the latest predictions for times of maximum visibility and and expected zenithal hourly rates (number of meteors per hour visible at the highest point in the sky):
Scientific data can be obtained by simply counting the number of Leonids and non Leonids seen. Shower association will be easy as the Leonid meteors will all have parallel paths and come from the same general area of the sky. They will also have a similar velocity. Of course this all changes if you change the direction in which you are facing. Non Leonids (sporadics) can travel in any direction at any velocity. If you are familiar which the magnitude system it is also helpful to list the magnitude of the faintest star you can see in your field of view. Typical estimates should be near +5.0.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
San Francisco, California
November 1, 2001
Leonid Meteor Shower Could Be One Of Best In History
By Robert Naeye
In the wee morning hours of Sunday, November 18, the Leonid meteor shower might intensify into a dazzling meteor storm, with "shooting stars" continuously blazing trails across the night sky. Viewers across the United States are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the storm, which could be among the most spectacular sky events of the 21st century according to the latest scientific predictions.
The peak in shower activity will occur between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. EST, or 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. PST on Sunday morning, November 18. "During the peak, people viewing under clear and dark skies could see meteors shooting across the sky at a rate of 1,000 to 2,000 per hour, with flurries of one meteor per second at the peak of the storm," says Robert Naeye, Editor of Mercury magazine, which is published in San Francisco by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP).
During the predicted storm, Earth will plow through a trail of tiny dust particles left behind by Comet Tempel-Tuttle during its passage through the inner solar system in the year 1767. This comet rounds the Sun every 33.25 years, shedding dust particles as it is warmed by sunlight. Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through debris left behind by comets. But meteor storms occur when Earth passes through particularly dense ribbons of comet debris.
"During a typical Leonid meteor shower, an experienced observer might see about 10 to 15 meteors per hour. But during a storm, that rate climbs to 1,000 or more meteors per hour," says Naeye. "This year's Leonid storm might peak at a rate of up to 2,000 per hour, although it's difficult to pin down a precise number. The rates will rise and fall over a period of two hours."
"Of course, these numbers depend on the accuracy of our predictions. But the predictions have been remarkably accurate in recent years," says ASP member Dr. Peter Jenniskens, an astronomer and meteor researcher at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and author of an in-depth article about meteor science in the November/December 2001 issue of Mercury magazine.
This year's Leonid display has two added bonuses. The Moon will rise during daylight and set six hours before the peak, so the Moon's glare will not obscure fainter meteors. In addition, the peak will occur on a Sunday morning, so many people can sleep in after a long night of skygazing.
If one mentally traces back the trajectory of Leonid meteors, they appear to originate in the constellation Leo (the Lion). Leo rises around midnight, so the shower will be minimal in the hours immediately after sunset. But it will pick up considerably as the night progresses.
The entire United States should enjoy a good shower. Peak meteor rates
should occur around 5:00 a.m. EST, 4:00 a.m. CST, 3:00 a.m. MST, and
2:00 a.m. PST. Observers in eastern Asia and the Western Pacific will
also enjoy a storm approximately 8 hours later (in the morning hours
of November 19, local time), according to the forecasts. For the
latest predictions for your local area, visit this website from NASA's
Ames Research Center:
Earth will encounter another dense ribbon of Comet Tempel-Tuttle debris in 2002, but under a full Moon. After that, it's over for nearly a century. "It's now or never," stresses Naeye. "People should take advantage of this year's Leonid storm, because astronomers don't think we'll see another storm like this one until the year 2099. We will probably never see a better meteor shower in our lifetimes."
When you see meteors, popularly known as "shooting stars," you're seeing interplanetary dust particles burning up in the atmosphere at altitudes of about 60 to 70 miles. A typical comet dust particle -- known as a meteoroid -- is only about the size of a grain of sand or a pebble when it enters the atmosphere. Larger chunks of comet debris, perhaps up to the sizes of basketballs, sometimes light up the sky as they burn up, which are events called fireballs or bolides. Leonids enter the atmosphere at 160,000 miles per hour, making them the fastest meteors of the year.
"Shooting stars are for every man, woman, and child to see, and it doesn't take any special equipment to see them," says Jane Houston Jones, a member of the ASP Board of Directors and an experienced meteor observer. "Most Leonid meteors are faint, so you'll see more of them if you are far away from city light pollution. If you can't get to a dark site, then control your own light pollution by turning out as many lights as you can control. Then sit back in a lawn chair, bundle up in a blanket, and at a little before midnight local time, face east. You'll see the backwards question-mark shape of Leo's mane rising, and that's where the meteors will appear to radiate over the next few hours."
Meteors are beautiful sky events for skygazers. But for scientists, meteors are fascinating in their own right. "Meteor science involves more than just predicting storms. We also want to learn about the meteoroids themselves, which in turn tell us a great deal about the parent comet," says Jenniskens. "We also want to learn more how meteors may have brought critical organic material to Earth, perhaps leading to the origin and prevalence of life on our planet."
The Leonids to Provide an Unforgettable Show in November
On Sunday morning November 18, early morning risers in the Americas'
have chance to witness a true shower of meteors provided by the Leonids.
The Leonid meteor shower is active annually on November 18 but the show
is normally a meager 10-15 meteors per hour. Ever since the parent comet
of the Leonids, 55P Temple-Tuttle entered the inner solar system in
1998, the Leonids have provided enhanced displays to those willing to
brave the cool morning air. Time is running out though as the comet
recedes back into the remote reaches of the outer solar system. Good
displays are possible this year and next but after 2002 the activity
returns to normal until 2031, when the comet again returns to the inner
solar system. Even then and in 2066 experts are predicting unimpressive
Leonid displays due to close encounters of the comet and the outer
planets. What makes this year so important is that the moon will be a
slim waxing crescent, setting well before the show begins. This allows
potential observers to watch in truly dark conditions. In 2002 the
Leonid display will be compromised by a full moon, which will allow only
the brighter meteors to be seen.
For those located in the Americas' the Leonids are predicted to reach maximum activity between 10 and 10:30 Universal Time on Sunday morning November 18th. This corresponds to 5:00-5:30AM EST, 4:00-4:30AM CST, 3:00-3:30AM MST, and 2:00-2:30AM PST. Other peaks are predicted to occur later near 17:30 and 18:15 Universal Times. These later times favor the Eastern Pacific area, Eastern Asia and Australia. Since these areas are located west of the International Date Line it will be important to note that from those locations the meteor shower will occur on Monday morning November 19 local time.
The earth does not begin encountering Leonid meteors before November 10. From November 10-15 the Leonid rates are very low with only 1-2 meteors being seen each morning. Even on the 16th and 17th rates will still be less than 10 Leonids per hour. Not until we approach the times of predicted maximum activity will Leonid rates exceed 100 meteors per hour and hopefully much higher. The process then repeats itself in the opposite order as the earth moves past the main swarm of Leonid meteors. The last of the Leonid meteors appears near November 25. Leonid meteors are not visible until late in the evening when the constellation of Leo the Lion rises in the eastern sky. As Leo rises higher into the sky the chance of seeing more activity increases.
No one knows precisely how many meteors will appear. Experts predict that the maximum activity seen near 18:15 UT will produce the most activity. Let me state that if you are located in any of the areas mentioned above you will most likely witness the most impressive meteoric display to be seen during your lifetime. So this is definitely an event not to be missed! Being on a weekend I would suggest traveling to an adjacent county or state to escape cloudy skies. Your local weather bureau web site provides links to infrared satellite pictures that show the higher clouds at night. This is invaluable resource when trying to find the nearest clear skies.
One should plan to start observing at least one hour before the predicted time of maximum activity just in case maximum activity arrives early. Don't expect to see much activity by strolling outside and simply looking up. Your eyes need time to adjust to the dark. Your neck muscles will also tire quickly. If you wish to see some serious activity you need to lie in a comfortable lounge chair. Unless you are located in the tropics a sleeping bag or heavy blanket would certainly help you remain comfortable. Leonid meteors can be seen in any portion of the sky. It's best to look at least halfway up so that none of your field of view is wasted on the ground. That streetlight located across the street will not help either. Most of the Leonid activity will be dim meteors. To see this display in all its glory you need to get away from all sources of artificial lighting to some safe rural area. Usually the local astronomy club will have a rural site available for observing.
If you wish to do more than just watch, then it is useful to know that scientific data can be obtained by simply counting the number of Leonids and non Leonids seen. The start and ending times should be recorded along with any breaks taken during the observing session. Shower association will be easy as the Leonid meteors will all have parallel paths and come from the same general area of the sky. They will also have a similar velocity as seen within your field of view. Non Leonids (sporadics) can travel in any direction at any velocity. If you are familiar which the magnitude system it is also helpful to list the magnitude of the faintest star you can see in your field of view. Typical urban estimates should be near +5.0. Rural skies are better at +6.0 and higher. If you are really enthusiastic then you may wish trying to record the time and magnitude of each meteor seen. Of course if activity becomes too high then a simple count per minute will suffice.
Meteor reports can be sent to me at: email@example.com and to Sky & Telescope at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on observing meteors visit the Sky & Telescope Web Pages at: http://www.skypub.com/sights/meteors/meteorwatch.html
A weekly preview of current meteor activity is also published each Thursday at: http://www.amsmeteors.org/lunsford/
Secretary General of the International Meteor Organization
Visual Meteor Program Coordinator of the American Meteor Society
Meteors Section Coordinator of the Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers
07 November 2001
Earth Orbiting Satellites Brace for Leonid Meteor Shower
By Jim Banke
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Satellite operators will keep a close eye on their Earth-orbiting spacecraft during the upcoming Leonid meteor shower, and though the risk of damage from a stray speck of dust is greater than normal, officials are confident there will be no natural disasters in space.
Nevertheless, if a Leonid meteoroid hits a satellite, the small grain can destroy an imaging mirror or plow through fragile parts such as an electricity-generating solar panel, possibly creating electrical shorts that can disable the craft. Just the momentum imparted by an impact can throw a satellite off course.
Full story here.
The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Centre
What's News for November 2001
Annual Leonid Meteor Shower
The annual Leonid meteor shower will occur from 14 - 21 Nov 01 and will
reach its peak on 180208z Nov 01. From the period of 172008z-180808z Nov
01 all users should monitor their systems very carefully. This period is six
hours prior and six hours after the expected peak of the meteor storm. It is
predicted that Leonid meteor showers will be more intense than last year.
Satellites may experience anomalies due to electrostatic discharge such as
short circuits, power fluctuations, electronic equipment overload, and single
event upsets (seu's). These anomalies could result in satellite disorientation.
The meteor shower may affect the entire radio frequency spectrum, including
satellite communication links. For more information,