We present an automatic meteor detection and analysis software called 3D-FireTOC. Recording these luminous events gives valuable information on the nature of asteroids and comets.

Obtaining the trajectory of these extraterrestrial bodies impacting the atmosphere is crucial especially for meteorite-dropper events, as they leave pristine rock on the Earth’s surface. Meteorites are fossils from space that allow us to learn more about the origin of our Solar System, to understand in depth the cometary and asteroidal composition and formation processes, and to test our theoretical simulations against laboratory results.

The software is written in Python and integrates computer vision, image processing, astrometry, photometry and orbit propagation techniques. With recordings from two or more observation points of the same meteor, its atmospheric flight can be reconstructed by triangulation and its heliocentric orbit can be estimated, allowing to study the dynamic association with swarms and meteor showers.

The automation of the meteor detection and analysis facilitates the processing of increasing massive data, which was beginning to saturate storage capacity. With the implementation of this new software, the Spanish Meteor Network (SPMN) gains in capacity to rapidly generate new knowledge about the hazards associated with large meteoroids and their dynamic association with comets, asteroids or even planetary bodies. In addition, this automation will allow the immediate preparation of fresh meteorite search campaigns.

This paper is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Link to the article in MNRAS: https://academic.oup.com/mnras/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/mnras/stab999/6219850

Link to the article as green open access: https://arxiv.org/abs/2103.13758