[meteorite-list] The AMS Radio Meteor Project

From: Robert Verish <bolidechaser_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:21:08 2004
Message-ID: <20030724174723.34145.qmail_at_web80507.mail.yahoo.com>


The AMS Radiometeor Project

For nearly forty years the American Meteor Society
(AMS) has encouraged its amateur members to experiment
with the establishment of forward scatter receiver
systems. First successes in this area were had by the
Kansas Meteor Group, an AMS affiliate, in 1958. This
group, led by Walter Scott Houston, established an
automatic electronic system for counting meteor echoes
from a professionally operated transmitter located in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Featured in the July, 1958,
Scientific American, this system remained in operation
until the early 1960's.

During the mid-1970's, the advent of the personal
computer made it possible for amateurs to establish
forward-scatter data collection systems of an even
higher level of sophistication. In order to germinate
this potential within the amateur community, the AMS
Radio Scatter Program was created by Dr. David Meisel
in 1977. The purpose of this program was to establish
a network of amateur operated forward-scatter
receiving stations across a wide geographic area, each
station automatically collecting data on the incoming
meteor flux on a continuous 24-hr day basis. The data
collected from these stations would then be used in
the research conducted by AMS affiliated professional
astronomers. During the decade of the 1980's, this
program carried out experiments involving the
establishment of meteor radio scatter receiving
stations by groups of amateur astronomers, as well as
preliminary work in using microcomputers for data
collection. Notable successes included the work of
William Black (1983) of Florida; Michael Owen (1986)
of New York; and Meteor Group Hawaii
<http://www.amsmeteors.org/mghawaii/> , led by Michael
Morrow and George Pokarney (1987). The most promising
results were the experiments performed by Kenneth
Pilon (1984), a Canadian amateur, who successfully
demonstrated that a TRS-80 personal computer could be
used to detect and make graphic printouts of meteor

Building upon the lessons learned from these previous
attempts, the first full-time prototype station for
the AMS became operational in March, 1993, utilizing
an economical Apple IIe platform for data collection.
This station was located in the rural countryside of
northwest Florida (Poplar Springs) , and utilizes
distant Television Channel 2 transmitters as its
signal source. In late 1993, the AMS Radio Scatter
Program was reorganized, and became the AMS
Radiometeor Project. For several years, efforts were
focused upon expanding the network, as well as
increasing the reliability and sophistication of each
individual station. Three stations were eventually
established, located in California, Florida, and
Virginia. Professional analysis of the collected data
yielded several conference talks and an extensive
paper in the European journal Planetary and Space
science. By 1998, the data collection computers were
significantly obselete to make further operation
impractible, and the network of active stations was
discontinued at that time.

Although the AMS does not currently have an active
network of radiometeor stations, the society continues
to support amateur efforts in this fascinating aspect
of meteor science. For further information, contact
James Richardson <jrich_at_amsmeteors.org> , the former
Radio Meteor Project coordinator.

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Received on Thu 24 Jul 2003 01:47:23 PM PDT

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