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Meteor Showers

Meteor shower survey

Small aircraft missions
2014 Camelopardalids
2008 Quadrantid MAC
2007 Ursid MAC
2007 Aurigid MAC

Leonid MAC
2002 Leonid MAC
2001 Leonid MAC
2000 Leonid MAC
1999 Leonid MAC
1998 Leonid MAC


2009 Shuttle external tank

ATV Disruptive Reentry
2015 ATV-5 "G. Lemaitre"
2008 ATV-1 "Jules Verne"

Hyperseed MAC
2010 Hayabusa reentry
2006 Stardust MAC
2004 Genesis MAC

Meteorite Falls

2013 Chelyabinsk
2012 Novato
2012 Sutter's Mill
2008 Impact of 2008 TC3
1992 Mbale meteorite shower
1990 Glanerbrug fall


SOFIA SURF (workshop)
2004 SURF workshop

ASIMA (satellite mission proposed)
2008 Asteroid Impact Analyzer

Books, reports, and journal special issues:

Sutter's Mill:
2014 Nov. issue

ATV + Hayabusa Entry:
(in preparation)

2008 TC3:
2010 Oct./Nov. issue

Stardust SRC Entry:
2010 Vol. 47, number 5 and 6


2002 Leonid MAC:
790 p. monograph


2001 Leonid MAC:

1999 Leonid MAC:

1998 Leonid MAC:

Dr. Peter Jenniskens,
Principal Investigator
[Career pages]

Dr. Peter Jenniskens has been a proud mentor to the following students and interns:

NASA Frontier Development Lab:

  • R. Citron
    Robert Citron - 2016 [FDL, UC Berkeley]
  • A. Shah
    Amar Shah - 2016 [FDL, Cambridge University]
  • S. Sinha
    Shravanthi Sinha - 2016 [FDL, Holbrook School]
  • R. Citron
    Christopher Watkins - 2016 [FDL, Monash University]

Students NASA Ames Exploration Academy:

  • C. Matthieson
    Cooper Matthieson - 2014 [CAMS in Space, Columbia University]
  • Q. Nenon
    Quentin Nenon - 2013 [CAMS, at ISAE/CNES, France]
  • A. Berdeu
    Anthony Berdeu - 2012 [CAMS, at ISAE/CNES, France]
  • J. Reijneveld
    Jon Reijneveld - 2011 [Draconid MAC, at Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, now with Astrium]
  • K. Newman
    Kevin Newman - 2010 [CAMS, now at NASA Ames]
  • H. Duckworth
    Heather Duckworth - 2009 [CAMS, now at Caltech, CA]
  • M. Borden
    Michael Borden - 2008 [ATV MAC, now at JPL]
  • R. Conrey
    Rick Conrey - 2007 [Aurigid MAC, now at Velodyne Acoustics, Inc.]

Students NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy:

  • M. Byrne
    Monica C. Byrne - 2002 [Now PhD student at MIT, geobiology]
  • E. Schaller
    Emily Schaller - 2001 [2001 and 2002 Leonid MAC, now at NASA Armstrong]
  • A. Mandell
    Avi Mandell - 2000 [2001 Leonid MAC, now NASA civil servant at GSFC]
  • M. Lacey
    Matt Lacey - 1999 [1999 Leonid MAC, now aerospace engineer at KSFC]

Students SETI Institute Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates program:

  • Melissa Hannan
    Melissa Hannan - 2015 [CAMSS, Cal State San Bernardino]
  • Andy Crump
    Andy Crump - 2014 [CAMS, Principia College]
  • Bethany Kelley
    Bethany Kelley - 2014 [CAMS, at Univ. Maryland]
  • B. Johnson
    Beth Johnson - 2013 [CAMS, at San Jose State University]
  • K. Steakley
    Kathryn Steakley - 2012 [CAMS, at Washington University, Seattle]
  • M. Phillips
    Meridel Phillips - 2011 [CAMS, currently at Univ Rochester, NY ]
  • E. Leidy
    Erin Leidy - 2010 [Hayabusa MAC, currently at MIT]
  • S. Valkov
    Steffi Valkov - 2010 [CAMS, currently at Pomona State University, CA]
  • L. Genovese
    Lisa Genovese - 2009 [CAMS, at Grand Valley State University ]
  • C. Webb
    Claire Webb - 2008 [ATV MAC, at Vassar College]
  • K. de Kleer
    Kat de Kleer - 2007 [Aurigid MAC, at MIT, now doing PhD at UC Berkeley]
  • J. Merritt
    Jason Merritt - 2006 [Now at University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences]

Research Intern:

Post doc:

Mission statement

Create research opportunities in airborne astronomy, especially for the study of natural and artificial meteors and meteor showers. Involve the public in missions of exploration.

Science themes:

  • How do comets and their meteor showers originate and evolve?
  • What role did meteoric matter play in the prebiotic evolution of life?
  • What comets can threaten life on Earth?
  • When do spacecraft need protection from meteoroid impacts?
  • What are the physical conditions during the re-entry of spacecraft?
  • At what altitude do asteroids break up in the atmosphere and create airbursts?
  • Where do our meteorites originate in the asteroid belt?


NASA Frontier Development Lab



Development of a drone into an Airborne DEep Learning Imaging Explorer (ADELIE).

Cygnus OA6 reentry

Cygnus OA6 reentry



Shallow re-entry of Cygnus OA6 "S.S. Rick Husband", optical imaging and spectroscopic support fro Re-Entry Breakup Recorder - Wireless deployment.

Legacy video

WT1190F debris reentry

WT1190F reentry



Re-entry of an unknown space debris object on an asteroid-like orbit (possibly the Trans Lunar Injection Stage of Lunar Prospector) as practice for a future asteroid impact mission.

Legacy video

Camelopardalids outburst




Study of weakly-active comet 209P/LINEAR dust ejecta, when Earth is expected to meet a pile-up of centuries-old dust ejecta during an exceptionally close passage of the comet by Earth.

legacy image

Chelyabinsk airburst

Diamond DA20

Images field campaign

Chelyabinsk Airburst Consortium


Investigation of all factors that contributed to airburst from 500 kt impact in Russia. Taking part in Russian Academy of Sciences fact-finding mission.
glass damage

legacy image

Novato meteorite fall


airship Eureka

CAMS website

Legacy image


CAMS video cameras track falling meteoroid, resulting in meteorite recovery in Novato. Fourth recovered fall in California in two centuries. Second in one year.

Novato Meteorite Consortium.

Sutter's Mill meteorite fall

airship Eureka
Photo: Sacramento Bee patch

CAMS website.

SM Meteorite Consortium.


A 4 kt impact over California and the search and recovery of rare carbonaceous chondrite meteorites in gold country.


Legacy image

2011 Draconid outburst




The encounter of Earth with the 1900-dust ejecta of comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner promises a rich shower and the chance to study the breakup of a comet.
Draconid nodes.

Hayabusa re-entry

Hayabusa re-entry.



The re-entry of the Hayabusa sample return capsule as a system field test for a thermal protection system, and of Hayabusa itself as a study of meteoroid fragmentation.

[#5 Best Space Picture of 2010" by National Geographic]


Legacy image
talk (YouTube)

Impact and recovery of 2008 TC3


Workshop - talk (YouTube).


The recovery of meteorites from the impact of the first asteroid to be discovered prior to impacting the Earth.

[#62 news story in science of 2009 - Discovery Magazine]

talk (YouTube)

Peter's first find

Legacy image
Legacy image

ATV-1 "Jules Verne" MAC mission

Clicking on the image will bring up group photo.

mission patch



An international multi-instrument airborne campaign to prepare for the ISS de-orbit and to study the physics of uncontrolled reentries by observing the controlled shallow reentry of ATV-5.
group photo
mission patch



An international multi-instrument airborne campaign to monitor the safe reentry of ESA's new Automated Transfer Vehicle over the south Pacific ocean during its maiden voyage in 2008.
group photo

Legacy image
[#3 Best astronomy picture of 2008 - Discovery Space]

Gulfstream V meteor shower missions

mission patch



Study of the annual Quadrantid shower to determine the influence of Jupiter on the shower and whether the shower can have been created in 1490 AD.
group photo

Legacy image


An otherwise minor shower was expected to become strong with the imminent return of comet 8P/Tuttle.

mission patch


Bright Ursid Meteor Dec 22, 2007
mission patch



An outburst of Aurigid meteors dating from 4 A.D.. A brief but spectacular outburst of meteors was observed from two parallel flying Gulfstream V aircraft en route from Utah to California.
Aurigid group Night of the mission

Legacy image
Legacy image

Hyperseed MAC

mission patch Stardust



The fiery return of the Stardust Sample Return Capsule was observed from the Nevada/Utah border from NASA's DC-8 Airborne Laboratory. Observers recorded a spectacular video of the entry, as well as signatures of the shock emissions, hot surface, white paint, and the ablating heat shield material.

[#1 News story in astronomy - Astronomy magazine]

Stardust SRC entry Fiery reentry of the Stardust sample return capsule

Legacy video by partipant Dr. Mike Taylor of Utah State University.

mission patch Genesis



During this final mission of the USAF FISTA aircraft, observers recorded how hot the Genesis Sample Return Capsule got before it crashed on the Utah salt flats due to a failed parachute opening.
2002 group Back at Offutt AFB

Legacy image

SOFIA Upper Deck Research Facility

SURF group



Workshop to discuss a future research facility on the upper deck of the SOFIA Infrared Airborne Observatory.
logo S.U.R.F. SOFIA S.U.R.F. logo

Leonid MAC

1999 Leonid storm (HDTV)
The Leonid MAC logo: a silhouetted human reaches beyond the limits of our knowledge, grasping toward the tail of a comet. The orange stripe represents an upper region of the atmosphere where meteors vaporize and leave atomic debris behind that is responsible for the faint orange glow of Earth's natural airglow layer.
mission patch 2002 Leonid MAC



The final meteor storms in this Leonid storm season double peaked over Europe and Northern America. Both storms were observed as planned during a flight from Torrejon, Spain, to Omaha, Nebraska. Aurora created a scenic background for a blizzard of tiny meteors.
2002 group Back at Offutt AFB


The most beautiful of all meteor storms in the Leonid storm season double-peaked over Northern America and the western Pacific. The 2001 Leonid MAC covered the first peak in a mission over the continental USA from Alabama to California.
mission patch 2001 Leonid MAC


group photo

Proud at dawn!

Legacy image

[#1 News story in astronomy - Astronomy magazine]

mission patch 2000 Leonid MAC



No Leonid MAC mission because of relatively low meteor shower rates. Airborne effort limited to small Cessna aircraft used to escape bad Florida weather and moon light. Ground-based observers encounter the 1932 and 1866 dust trail on November 16/17 and 17/18.
Picture from 2000 Cessna deployment

Onboard the Cessna aircraft.


The 1999 Leonid MAC mission patch features the flags of participating nations, both nations from which participants originate as nations that are visited on our route. The patch illustrates the multi-national and multi-instrument nature of the campaign, symoblizing the global impact of meteoroids on satellite safety and the global implications of our search for the origins of life.
mission patch 1999 Leonid MAC


Image from 1999 campaign

Meteor flux counter wearing video headset display.

Legacy image
Legacy image

mission patch 1998 Leonid MAC



November 1998: the first airborne mission in this campaign executed over Okinawa, Japan. This was NASA's first Astrobiology mission. The mission featured the NSF/NCAR "Electra", with a 2-beam iron lidar of the University of Illinois, and the USAF/452nd FTS "FISTA".
picture from 1998 campaign

At work during1998 mission.

Legacy image
Legacy image

2009 Leonids:
video (YouTube)

1997 Leonids:
Legacy image

1995 Leonids:
Legacy image + Legacy image
Legacy image

Other images:
Legacy image - meteor in slit of Very Large Telescope
Legacy image - alpha Monocerotids
Legacy image - NEAR passing by Earth

SETI Institute logo Curator: Peter Jenniskens
Responsible NASA Official: Jay Grinstead
Last update: July 12, 2016
Hosted by: The SETI Institute