Radar Detectability Studies of Slow and Small Zodiacal Dust Cloud Particles. I. The Case of Arecibo 430 MHz Meteor Head Echo Observations


Janches, D., Plane, J. M. C., Nesvorný, D., Feng, W., Vokrouhlický, D., & Nicolls, M. J. (2014). Radar detectability studies of slow and small zodiacal dust cloud particles. I. The case of Arecibo 430 MHz meteor head echo observations. The Astrophysical Journal, 796(1), 41.


Recent model development of the Zodiacal Dust Cloud (ZDC) argues that the incoming flux of meteoric material into the Earth’s upper atmosphere is mostly undetected by radars because they cannot detect small extraterrestrial particles entering the atmosphere at low velocities due to the relatively small production of electrons. In this paper, we present a new methodology utilizing meteor head echo radar observations that aims to constrain the ZDC physical model by ground-based measurements. In particular, for this work, we focus on Arecibo 430 MHz observations since this is the most sensitive radar utilized for this type of observations to date. For this, we integrate and employ existing comprehensive models of meteoroid ablation, ionization, and radar detection to enable accurate interpretation of radar observations and show that reasonable agreement in the hourly rates is found between model predictions and Arecibo observations when (1) we invoke the lower limit of the model predicted flux (~16?t d?1) and (2) we estimate the ionization probability of ablating metal atoms using laboratory measurements of the ionization cross sections of high-speed metal atom beams, resulting in values up to two orders of magnitude lower than the extensively utilized figure reported by Jones for low-speed meteors. However, even at this lower limit, the model overpredicts the slow portion of the Arecibo radial velocity distributions by a factor of three, suggesting that the model requires some revision.

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