U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Meteoritics & Planetary Science 45, Nr 9, 1476–1487 (2010)


© The Meteoritical Society

This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.

doi: 10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01115.x


We report the use of Doppler weather radar as a tool for locating meteorites, both at the time of a fall and from archived radar data. This asset is especially useful for meteorite recovery as it can provide information on the whereabouts of falling meteorites in ‘‘dark flight’’ portion of their descent where information on their flight paths cannot be discerned from more traditional meteorite location techniques such as eyewitness accounts. Weather radar data can provide information from detection in three distinct regimes: (A) direct detection of the rapidly moving, optically bright fireball by distant radars, (B) detection of falling debris to include hand-sample sized rocks, and (C) detection of dust produced by detonation events that can occur tens of minutes and many kilometers laterally removed from the actual fireball locality. We present examples of each, as well as comparisons against man-made debris from a re-entering Soyuz rocket and the Stardust Sample Return Capsule. The use of Doppler weather radar as a supplement to traditional meteorite recovery methods holds the promise of improving both the speed and total number of meteorite recoveries, thereby increasing the number of freshly fallen meteorites for scientific study.