Leonids Sample Return payload has been found
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Right: The recovered Leonids Sample Return payload at the Chattanooga Airport. The "Comet Catcher" is a matrix of aerogel-filled wells that were attached to the outside of the balloon in hopes of capturing Leonid micro-meteoroids at an altitude of 100,000 ft.
The balloon was launched on November 17th during the Leonids meteor shower by scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. It carried a CCD video camera to record the shower for a live webcast, as well as a device designed to capture Leonid meteoroids and return them to Earth intact.
The aerogel sample collectors have been returned to scientists at the NASA Marshall Space Sciences Lab, where they are being examined with an environmental scanning electron microscope for evidence of meteoroids. Bill Brown (WB8ELK) contributed this account of the recovery:
"Today (Nov. 18th), Melody Johnson and pilot Don Henson flew over Chatsworth, Georgia and pinpointed the landing site by homing in on the 144.000 MHz tracking signal coming from the balloon. Melody used a ham radio unit supplied by Randy Ware, director of the technology center of Dalton Junior High School."
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"The landing site is just off of Old Dalton Ellijay Road about 1.6 miles due west of downtown Chatsworth, Georgia. Coordinates: 34d 46.19m N, 84d 47.90m W."
Below: Ed Myszka (left) who built the payload, poses with Melody Johnson (middle) and her daughter Katie (right) after they tracked down the payload in Georgia.
Leonids Live! - images and video from the 1998 Leonid meteor storm
Meteor counts - submit your own meteor counts to NASA!
1998 Leonids Data Bank -- a useful summary of Leonids information from NASA Ames.
The November Leonids: Will they Roar? -- Predictions from JPL
Eyewitness accounts of the 1966 storm -- an Ames Research Center Archive
NASA's Office of Space Science - press releases and other news related to NASA and astrophysics
Great Expectations: the 1998 Leonids Meteor Shower -- the basics of the Leonid meteors. Includes eyewitness accounts from the great 1966 storm and observing hints for 1998.
Halley's comet returns in bits and pieces -- story posted Oct 20 on the Orionid meteor shower
Giacobinids dazzle observers
Tune-up for the Leonids - story posted Oct 7, discusses the astronomy of the Giacobinids
The Leonids -- from Gary Kronk Meteors and Comets web site
International Meteor Organization
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Author: Tony Phillips
Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips
Curator: Bryan Walls
Responsible NASA official: John M. Horack