A Search for Meteoroid Lunar Impact Generated Electromagnetic Pulses

Saiveena Kesaraju, John D. Mathews, Juha Vierinen, Phil Perillat, David D. Meisel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Lunar white light flashes associated with meteoroid impacts are now regularly observed using modest optical instrumentation. In this paper, we hypothesize that the developing, optically-dense hot ejecta cloud associated with these hypervelocity impacts also produce an associated complex plasma component that rapidly evolves resulting in a highly-transient electro magnetic pulse (EMP) in the VHF/UHF spectral region. Discovery of the characteristics and event frequency of impact EMPs would prove interesting to meteoroid flux and complex plasma physics studies especially if EMPs from the same event are detected from at least two locations on the Earth with relative delays appropriate to the propagation paths. We describe a prototype observational search, conducted in May 2014, for meteoroid lunar-impact EMPs that was conducted using simultaneous, overlapping-band, UHF radio observations at the Arecibo (AO; Puerto Rico) and Haystack (HO, Massachusetts, USA) Observatories. Monostatic/bistatic lunar radar imaging observations were also performed with HO transmitting and HO/AO receiving to confirm tracking, the net delay, and the pointing/timing ephemeris at both observatories. Signal analysis was performed using time–frequency signal processing techniques. Although, we did not conclusively identify EMP returns, this search detected possible EMPs and we have confirmed the search paradigm and established the sensitivity of the AO–HO system in detecting the hypothesized events. We have also characterized the difficult radio-frequency interference environment surrounding these UHF observations. We discuss the wide range of terrestrial-origin, Moon-bounce signals that were observed which additionally validate the observational technique. Further observations are contemplated.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-21
    Number of pages21
    JournalEarth, Moon and Planets
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Space and Planetary Science


    Dive into the research topics of 'A Search for Meteoroid Lunar Impact Generated Electromagnetic Pulses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this