Current meteor shower forecast models project a strong Draconid outburst, possibly a storm, on October 8, 2011, with a duration of approximately 7 hours and peaking between 19 and 21 hours UT. Predicted rates span an order of magnitude, with maximum Zenithal Hourly Rates (ZHRs) ranging from a few tens to several hundred. Calibration of the NASA MSFC Meteoroid Stream Model 1 to radar and optical observations of past apparitions, particularly the 2005 Draconid outburst 2, suggest that the maximum rate will be several hundreds per hour. Given the high spatial density of the Draconid stream, this implies a maximum meteoroid flux of 5-10 Draconids km(exp -2)/hr (to a limiting diameter of 1 mm), some 25-50 times greater than the normal sporadic flux of 0.2 km(exp -2)/ hr for particles of this size. Total outburst fluence, assuming a maximum ZHR of 750, is 15.5 Draconids km(exp -2), resulting in an overall 10x risk increase to spacecraft surfaces vulnerable to hypervelocity impacts by 1 mm particles. It is now established that a significant fraction of spacecraft anomalies produced by shower meteoroids (e.g. OLYMPUS and LandSat 5) are caused by electrostatic discharges produced by meteoroid impacts. In these cases, the charge generated is roughly proportional to v(exp 3.5(4)), giving a Draconid moving at 20 km/s approximately 1/80th the electrical damage potential of a Leonid of the same mass. In other words, a Draconid outburst with a maximum ZHR of 800 presents the same electrical risk as a normal Leonid shower with a ZHR of 15, assuming the mass indices and shower durations are the same. This is supported by the fact that no spacecraft electrical anomalies were reported during the strong Draconid outbursts of 1985 and 1998. However, the lack of past anomalies should not be taken as carte blanche for satellite operators to ignore the 2011 Draconids, as the upcoming outburst will constitute a period of enhanced risk for vehicles in near-Earth space. Each spacecrft is unique, and components have differing damage thresholds; programs are encouraged to conduct analyses to determine whether or not mitigation strategies are necessary for their vehicles.
Meteoroids 2010: An International Conference on the Minor Bodies in the Solar System; May 24
- Pub Date:
- May 2010