Persistent Leonid meteor trails: Types I and II

Jack D. Drummond, Scott Milster, Brent W. Grime, David Barnaby, Chester S. Gardner, Alan Z. Liu, Xinzhao Chu, Michael C. Kelley, Craig Kruschwitz, Timothy J. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A campaign to study the trails left behind by bright Leonid meteors was conducted in November 1998 and 1999. These mysterious lingering trails have been observed for up to an hour. Such persistence allowed a visual observer at the Starfire Optical Range on Kirtland Air Force Base, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, to direct a sodium resonance laser, a CCD camera, and an intensifed video camera to the trail within two minutes of the meteor's appearance. Subsequent study of this data has identified two kinds of trails, Type I and II, although both may be found in a single trail. Type I trails appear turbid, wider (1 km), and optically thicker than Type II trails, and show very high diffusion rates of 800 m2s-1. Type II trails are thin (100-200 m), smooth in appearance, and exhibit low diffusion rates of 25 m2s-1. Type I trails also have higher line emission rates, and Type II trails often appear parallel. This latter phenomenon is still unexplained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-219
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number495
StatePublished - Nov 2001
EventProceedings of the meteoroids 2001 Conference - Kiruna, Sweden
Duration: Aug 6 2001Aug 10 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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