37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 18 Future Missions and Instrumentation
Poster, Monday, September 5, 2005, 6:00-7:15pm, Music Lecture Room 5

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[18.03] Determining Bolide Luminous Efficiency Through Optical Observations of the Genesis Atmospheric Entry

W.J. Cooke (Marshall Space Flight Center), W.M. Swift (Raytheon Corporation), R.M. Suggs (Marshall Space Flight Center)

The Genesis spacecraft reentry presented a unique opportunity for observationally constraining some key parameters in meteor physics, as its speed, mass, composition, and trajectory are all known with great precision - such is not the case for meteors. With this in mind, members of the Space Environments Team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center were deployed to northern Nevada, equipped with comparatively simple optical instrumentation to observe Genesis as it made its way through the upper atmosphere in the morning hours of September 8, 2004. This paper describes the video observations and their analysis, compares the results with a simple photometric model, and assesses the science value of using spacecraft atmospheric entries as ``calibrated meteors", particularly in regard to optical luminous efficiency. Implications for the Stardust reentry in January 2006 as well as future Shuttle reentries will be discussed.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.