Radar Detectability Studies of Slow and Small Zodiacal Dust Cloud Particles. II. A Study of Three Radars with Different Sensitivity


Janches, D., Swarnalingam, N., Plane, J. M. C., Nesvorny, D., Feng, W., Vokrouhlicky, D., & Nicolls, M. J. (2015). Radar detectability studies of slow and small zodiacal dust cloud particles. II. A study of three radars with different sensitivity. Astrophysical Journal, 807(1). doi:10.1088/0004-637X/807/1/13


The sensitivity of radar systems to detect different velocity populations of the incoming micrometeoroid flux is often the first argument considered to explain disagreements between models of the Near-Earth dust environment and observations. Recently, this was argued by Nesvorný et al. to support the main conclusions of a Zodiacal Dust Cloud (ZDC) model which predicts a flux of meteoric material into the Earth’s upper atmosphere mostly composed of small and very slow particles. In this paper, we expand on a new methodology developed by Janches et al. to test the ability of powerful radars to detect the meteoroid populations in question. In our previous work, we focused on Arecibo 430 MHz observations since it is the most sensitive radar that has been used for this type of observation to date. In this paper, we apply our methodology to two other systems, the 440 MHz Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar and the 46.5 Middle and Upper Atmosphere radar. We show that even with the less sensitive radars, the current ZDC model over-predicts radar observations. We discuss our results in light of new measurements by the Planck satellite which suggest that the ZDC particle population may be characterized by smaller sizes than previously believed. We conclude that the solution to finding agreement between the ZDC model and sensitive high power and large aperture meteor observations must be a combination of a re-examination not only of our knowledge of radar detection biases, but also the physical assumptions of the ZDC model itself.

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