Military Embedded Systems

Fireball data collected by government sensors released by Space Force


April 08, 2022

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Space Force photo.

WASHINGTON. An agreement between NASA and the U.S. Space Force recently authorized the public release of decades of data collected by U.S. government sensors on fireball events, or large bright meteors also known as bolides, for the benefit of the scientific and planetary defense communities.

This action results from collaboration between NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) and the U.S. Space Force to continue furthering our nation’s efforts in planetary defense, which include finding, tracking, characterizing, and cataloguing near-Earth objects (NEOs).

According to the material, the newly released data is comprised of information on the changing brightness of bolides as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, called light curves, that could enhance the planetary defense community’s current ability to model the effects of impacts by larger asteroids that could one day pose a threat to Earth.

Officials claim that Bolides are a regular occurrence that result when our planet is impacted by asteroids too small to reach the ground but large enough to explode upon impact with Earth’s atmosphere. U.S. government sensors detect these atmospheric impact events, and the bolide data is reported to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) fireballs database.

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