Leonid Streaks from Space

May 30, 2002


Provided by: Hank Brandli
Summary authors & editors: Hank Brandli; Jim Foster

The above photo was taken over the Middle East on November 16, 1998 from the nighttime visible sensor onboard a DMSP satellite. The horizontal streaks aren't data glitches, rather they're the signatures of Leonid meteors. Clear, moonless skies were nearly ideal for viewing the Leonid meteor storm over the Middle East in 1998 - similar conditions prevailed over a portion of the US last November. At an altitude of approximately 450 miles (720 km) above the Earth's surface, DMSP satellites are well above most meteors. It's estimated that at the peak of the "storm" as many as 10,000 meteors per hour were observed! Note, the brightest blotches, such as Baghdad, are city lights - the Mediterranean Sea is at the far left.

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