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Leonid MAC

Leonid MAC mission graphic

Leonid Multi-instrument Aircraft Campaign

Phase: Past

Launch Date: November 17, 1998

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In November of 1998 and 1999, Earth crossed the fresh ejecta of comet Tempel -Tuttle, resulting in large numbers of meteors. This offered an opportunity to study that comet by using the Earth's atmosphere as a giant detector in a low-cost comet mission. Its mission is to learn how extraterrestrial materials may have been brought to Earth at the time of the origin of life. In addition, the interaction of meteoroids with the atmosphere generates molecules that may have played a role in the origin of life on Earth.

The science objectives were to:

  • determine fate of organic matter during ablation
  • differential ablation (117 km)
  • conditions in meteor wake plasma
  • atmospheric chemistry
  • formation of solid debris containing organic matter
  • aerothermochemistry, synthesis of molecules

Last updated: April 24, 2015

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