Draconids 2011: Balloon and Ground-based Observations
The 8th of October took place an outburst of Draconids, with the maximum at ~20hTU as forecast. GUAIX (UCM group of Extragalactic Astrophysics and Astronomical Instrumentation) prepared a dedicated observing campaign to complement the continuous monitoring of the Fireball Video-detection Station at Observatorio UCM.
The highlight was the launch of a high altitude helium balloon with a scientific payload for recording the Draconids. It was done in collaboration with Proyecto Daedalus, that had launched successfully others balloons. The payload consisted of a netbook recording the signal coming from a Watec high-sensitivity video camera.
The balloon was launched in Daimiel, Spain and it landed 200km away, after a 4h flight. It reached the 29km level, and descended slowly to a place close to Jaén. The probe was recovered just before the astronomical twilight.
A first view of the clips and the logs shows that the computer stopped working after 45 minutes, when it was at ~11000m high. The malfunction was due to the very high (>85ºC) temperature reached at the CPU. This failure was completely unexpected as another netbook has already been launched and reached 30km without any problem, and we were more worried about the possible low temperatures inside the probe. We consider that the problem was probably caused by the decrement of the dissipation power of the air due to the rarefaction; or maybe by the obstruction of the ventilation duct with the isolation foam. For the next launch we plan to use a netbook with radiators and a lower power dissipation processor.
We are currently analyzing these 45 minutes recorded. However we are not confident of finding any Draconids as the winds below 12km were over 60km/h with the consequent instability. The experiment was designed to be efficient for almost an hour of recordings being over the tropopause.
Part of the group went to Sierra Nevada Observatory (OSN) of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA) at 2900m high. More than a hundred of Draconids were recorded. Some fireballs were observed in multiple station by several nodes of the SPanish Meteor Network (SPMN). The network made a huge coverage of the Draconids 2011. with 200 hundreds cameras in 30 stations.
Sierra Nevada Observatory lit up by moonlight observed by an ambient colour camera equipped with a grating .
Equipment installed at the Observatory.
Draconid photographed at 20:33TU at the OSN. At the image they are the Andromeda Galaxy (top right) and Double Cluster (bottom left).
At the Observatorio UCM the high-sensitivity cameras recorded another hundred of meteors. The event was also monitored by the Astronomical Sky Brightness and Quality Monitor (AstMon) taking all-sky pictures. It was broadcasted at www.cielosdemadrid.com . The light pollution from the city and the moonlight prevented watching the fainter ones.
Composed image with all the Draconids detected in 1h30m by one of the cameras of the Fireball Video-Detection Station at Observatorio UCM. The 'jet of light' is caused by the Torre Picasso illumination.
All the equipment has been tested in the LICA facilities (Laboratory for Advanced Scientific Instrumentation) at UCM.
- UCM group photo gallery Draconids - Observatorio Sierra Nevada
- Proyecto Daedalus - Balloon launching photo gallery
- Press Release UCM
- Press Release SPMN
- News at Spanish National Television RTVE