Meteor Research Group (MRG)

Within the Meteor Research Group of ESA, we perform research in the field of meteors and meteoroids. We operate a double-station video camera setup on the Canary Islands called CILBO. It has been collecting meteoroid orbits since 2012. We are using our own meteor orbit determination software, called MOTS, developed in 2002. The current version includes Monte Carlo modelling of the measurement errors, to obtain error estimates of the orbital elements. An additional camera with an objective grating allows us to obtain spectra, thus constraining the composition of the meteoroids.

We are in the process of expanding the French FRIPON network over the Netherlands. We are also working closely together with the NELIOTA team in Greece, analyzing lunar impact flashes, and study impact craters on the Columbus module of the International Space Station.

Our main science interests are meteoroid flux densities and their orbital parameters. We have developed elaborate de-biasing methods to analyse our CILBO data in that respect and are working on extending that to the FRIPON data. We are characterising the composition of meteoroids, and study lunar impact flashes.

If you want to work in our team, there are several posibilities - apply as an intern or Research Fellow. We work together with the University of Oldenburg and the Technical University of Munich, both in Germany, where we regulary offer Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D. theses.

In addition to the two mentioned universities, we cooperate closely with the University of Stuttgart, Germany, the IMCCE and Obs. Paris, France, the Observatory of Athens, Greece, and the DLR Berlin, Germany. We are working closely together with the near-Earth object segment of ESA's Space Situational Awareness programme and the Space Environment Section of ESA's Technical Directorate.

See some highlights of our work below, or in the 'news archive' accessible via the menu on the left. Or check out directly some of our projects and our equipment via the menu on the left.

Enjoy browsing our pages - Detlef Koschny, Hakan Svedhem, Andrea Toni, Olivier Witasse, Joe Zender - Nov 2018

--- Recent news ---

Columbus Crater Survey

2019 Mar 04 - Together with a team from the Ernst-Mach Institut Freiburg, the Univ. Oldenburg, and NASA, our Meteor Research Group has surveyed the ram and zenith panels of the Columbus module on the International Space Station, using the video camera on the Canadian robotic arm.

We are working with two students of the TU Munich (Elliot Lee and Max Kellner) to analyze the data. The idea is to determine the number of craters larger than a give size per surface area. From that, we can estimate the number of impacting particles as a function of size. With the exposure time we get the flux density of impacting particles. These can come from either natural micrometeoroids, or from space debris. A planned thesis at the Univ. Oldenburg will run modelling software to find out whether we can determine the relative contributions. We do expect a difference for the zenith- and ram-facing panels. This should help us disentangle the different contributions.

See also here: https://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Hundreds_of_impacts_crater_ESA_s_Columbus_science_laboratory

Another FRIPON camera - in Denekamp

2018-11-09 - Today we have installed the 4th Dutch FRIPON camera. It will be hosted by A. Tukkers (Cosmos Sterrenwacht) in Denekamp. FRIPON, the Fireball Recovery and InterPlanetary Observation Network, consists of a network of all-sky cameras that monitor the night sky for fireballs. Special software will compute the orbit of the fireball, i.e. where the object came from. It will also predict where possible meteorites would be found on ground. The network aims at increasing the number of found meteorites with known orbits.

Below the first image obtained with it in the evening.

For more news, see the news archive.