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Lunar Impact Flashes

The TMB Apo Refractor in Liebenhof

Since the first recordings of lunar impact flashes of the Leonid meteoroid shower in 1999, the search for further meteorite impacts on the Lunar night side became more and more important. By evaluating observations, models of the meteoroid population in the Earth-Moon system can be improved, which are relevant for safety assessment of space missions as well as for life on Earth. For future seismic missions on the Moon, recordings of meteorite impacts can be used to better specify sources of seismic waves and thus help improving our knowledge of the interior structure of the Moon.

Our working group aims to set up an autonomous observing system that will monitor the Moon and which requires favourable viewing geometry between Earth-Moon and the Sun as well as weather conditions. During the First and the Last Quarter Moon when the dark hemisphere of the Moon is largest, observation geometries are favourable.

Based on numerical models, the number of detectable impact flashes per unit of time shall be estimated. Therefore, an estimate of the energy released by a meteoroid of a certain mass and velocity is computed which constraints the estimates on how much energy will reach a CCD through a telescope with special characteristics (e.g. diameter, focal length, sensor resolution etc.). Ground-based Moon observations will help validating the developed models and also provide hints for improvements.

First tests of the observing system had been made in summer 2012. During the Perseid meteoroid shower in August 2013 and the following months, we have carried out intense observations in order to test the system. The collected data are being analysed and possible upgrades of the observation platform are currently discussed.

The observatory is located in Liebenhof (Garzau-Garzin) east of Berlin. Two telescopes,

  • TMB Apo Refractor with 203 mm aperture and 1400 mm focal length

  • Lichtenknecker with 200 mm aperture and 760 mm focal length

and two cameras,

  • DFK 21AU04 colour camera (Field of View on TMB Refractor: 8.8 x 6.6 arcmin²)

  • SPOSH camera head (Field of View on Lichtenknecker: 34.2 x 34.2 arcmin ²),

are used.

Within the scope of the ROBEX project scientists of the TU Berlin are studying the meteoroid population within the Earth-Moon system. The studies contribute to the better understanding of meteoroid populations and help improving models for these.

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Contact Person

Prof. Jürgen Oberst
+49 30 314-79701
Main Building
Room H 5122