Faculty of Mathematics, Physics
and Informatics
Comenius University Bratislava

H and CN emissions as tracers of H2O molecules and organic compounds in meteoroids: a feasibility study and instrument design

The project is focused on the analysis of the presence of water molecules and organic compounds in meteoroids by linking astronomical observations of meteors and a laboratory study of the simulated ablation of meteorites.

27. 10. 2022 11.05 hod.
By: Pavol Matlovič

Principal investigator: RNDr. Pavol Matlovič, PhD.
Investigators: doc. RNDr. Juraj Tóth, PhD., doc. RNDr. Leonard Kornoš, PhD., Mgr. Adriana Pisarčíková, Dr. Stefan Loehle, prof. Ing. Pavel Mach, CSc., Ing. Peter Varga
Subcontractors:  Institute of Space Systems, University of Stuttgart, Nemecko; Vision Systems s.r.o.
Funding of project: European Space Agency, ESA PECS call AO/1-11107/22/NL/SC
Project duration: 2022-2024

The goal of the project is to develop and validate a method for the detection and analysis of the presence of H2O molecules and organic compounds in meteoroids by investigating the emission of the atomic Hα line and molecular band of the CN radical in spectra of meteors ablating in the Earth’s atmosphere and meteorites ablated in plasma wind tunnel facilities. In our preparatory study, we have shown that strong emission of Hα in meteors is characteristic for cometary bodies with higher contents of ices and organic compounds. Experiments on simulating meteorite ablation have for the first time revealed the variations of the CN emission, which is directly linked to the content of organic compounds in meteorites and also correlates with the measured Hα line intensity. In the project, the technique developed by investigating the simulated ablation of meteorites will be applied to a large dataset of meteor spectra observations caused by meteoroids from various dynamical sources in the Solar system. We will quantify the variations of Hα a CN and define the instrumental requirements and physical conditions of ablation for the improved detection of CN. Based on these data, a concept design of a new optical spectrograph for more efficient detection of Hα a CN in meteors will be developed.