2002 Leonids Campaign - Spain 


In 2002 two teams travelled to Spain, just as in 1999, with some lessons learned that year and from 2001… In addition, we organized forward-scatter radio observations from the Netherlands. We expected to observe the European peak with video cameras and the radio, and both the European and the US peak via the measurement of the electric field of the atmosphere. We here give an overview over what was planned, the people involved, and useful links.

Campaign Overview

Our science goals (for the meteor campaign) were:


  • Participation in the determination of number rates vs. magnitude (using image-intesified video cameras).
  • Study the physical properties of individual meteors by measuring their light curves and velocity profiles and compare these to other streams (again, image-intesified video cameras).
  • Obtain spectra of meteors to determine the chemical composition of the meteoroids.
  • Perform E-field measurements to see whether bright meteors can induce Schuhmann-resonances in the atmosphere.
  • Provide real-time flux measurements to the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) by flying an image-intensified camera on a US airplane (Leonid MAC)



Secondary goals:

  • Support a team proposing to do the same with the Millimeter telescope (IRAM) nearby
  • Study the fine structure of the radiant using the ESA Optical Ground Station on Tenerife 

Initially, we also wanted to measure high-resolution spectra of persistent trails with the 1.5-m-telescope of the Grenada Observatory. However, the spectrograph of the telescope could not be used at the time.

Outreach events:

Jean-Pierre Lebreton set up a forward-scatter radio experiment, with the BBC in England continually transmitting a carrier signal all night. One recording station was located at ESTEC. 

The European Space Agency's PROBA spacecraft used an onboard camera to look at the upper atmosphere. The camera had only 0.5 deg field of view and was not very fast (f/20), but attempts were made anyway. 


We successfully provided about 500 visual meteor observations in just 2 hours to the IMO Visual Meteor Database. However, there was about 40 % cloud coverage and the observations were much less fun than those of 1999 and 2001. Also, the Moon was disturbing the observations.

However, we anyway recorded again many hours of video data, both with and without spectral gratings, which will be analysed in the future.

The electric field measurements worked again; in particular we now managed to increase the continuity of our observations.

The video camera on board the airplane of the Leonid MAC campaign recorded many hundred meteors of both peaks, and Rudiger Jehn from ESOC supported the real-time flux determinations. Just before the second peak, very intense aurorae disturbed the observations.

The imaging campaign with PROBA did not return any useful data, as we only got a handful of images back. The ground-based observations gave mixed results.


  • The International Meteor Organisation - the organization concerning meteors. Of course there are a number of national meteor organizations, some of them also extremely active

 Prepared 21 Aug 2002, dvk. Last update: 08 Nov 2002, edited hyperlinks and reinserted images 09 Aug 2016 and 03 Oct 2016.