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Fireball Network in Tajikistan


Fireball Network in Tajikistan and Search for Near-Earth Objects Associated with Fireball Showers

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-AST/Astronomy/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • SAT-EXP/Extraterrestrial Exploration/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • SAT-SAF/Space Safety/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Ryzhova T B

Leading Institute
Institute of Astrophysics, Tajikistan, Dushanbe


  • Astronomical Institute, Czechia, Ondrejov\nQueen Mary, University of London, UK, London

Project summary

The meteoroid population of interplanetary space consists of bodies of a variety of sizes that have physical and chemical properties as well as origin. If sufficiently large, they produce bright meteors, brighter than Venus (-4 magnitudes), named fireballs, when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Occasionally they can survive the passage through the atmosphere and produce a fall of meteorites on the Earth’s surface.

The parent bodies of meteoroids producing fireballs are comets and asteroids. They offer very different danger for the Earth, because comets burst in the Earth’s atmosphere, while asteroids may to impact with the Earth’s surface.

Since a dead or dormant comet can look superficially like an asteroid, it is very difficult to distinguish them from each other. One way it is to investigate the fragments that enter to the Earth’s atmosphere and produce fireballs.

With a view to investigate fireballs it is intended to organize a fireball network in Tajikistan. The unique astronomical climate of Tajikistan with 1700 clear night hours per year will ensure the success of the fireball network. The planned network includes 5 observational stations equipped by the fireball cameras with “fish-eye” lenses and by the digital (CCD) cameras, all located in the south part of Tajikistan. It will be the first fireball network in the Central Asia.

Organization a fireball network in Tajikistan is also important because it will be located at a distance of more than 4-5 hours of longitude relative to the European fireball network (EN). Observational data on fireball showers obtained on different longitudes are very important for obtaining information on the structure of the meteoroid streams that produced the fireball showers. Hence, the data on fireballs to be obtained in Tajikistan will greatly enhance the data obtained by EN and other fireball networks.

In addition to the scientific value of the new data regarding the physics and dynamics of the meteoroids, the fireballs have significant applied importance. For the defense of space vehicles it is necessary to have detailed information on the near-Earth meteoroid environment. In order to solving the problem of preventing a damaging collision, it is important to know the toughness and structure of the incoming meteoroid.

All-sky fireball cameras can be used for fireball observations associated with streams, but can also simultaneously to detect all sufficiently bright objects appearing on random positions on the sky. For example, obtained photographs may be useful for the search for optical flashes of γ-ray bursters, and for the registration of bright nova outbursts. All these are of interest both scientifically, and from the point of view of possible commercialization of the results of the investigations.

Preliminary experience of double-station fireball observations in Tajikistan during 2005-2007, within the framework of the ISTC project T-1086, showed its high efficiency: during 2.5 years the photographs of 85 fireballs were obtained, 35 of them were double-station. Astrometric and photometric reduction of the double-station fireball photographs were also carried out. As the results, the atmospheric trajectories, coordinates of radiants, geocentric and heliocentric orbits, masses, absolute magnitudes of these fireballs, and their relation to known meteor showers were determined.

The main goal of the project is:

To obtain new scientific results in dynamics and fireball/meteoroid physics, and new data on the near-Earth meteoroid environment, and to share this information among scientific community involved in resolving of global space safety problem.

For this aim it is necessary the following:

  • Organization in Tajikistan of the fireball network consisting of 5 stations located on the mutual distances of 80-90 km from each other.
  • Carry out 3 years photographic observations of fireballs by cameras equipped with the “fish-eye” Zeiss Distagon lenses and by digital (CCD) cameras.
  • Using photographic observations to determine the orbits and physical parameters of meteoroids producing fireballs.
  • Search for the near-Earth objects among known comets and asteroids crossing the Earth’s orbit, which might be associated genetically with fireball showers and inpidual fireballs.

These goals can be accomplished by participants of the project by the systematic observations of fireballs in all clear cloudless nights, and by determination of the geocentric and heliocentric parameters of fireball trajectories.

Multi-station photographic observations of fireballs allow a detailed study of the processes of disintegration of large meteoroids in the Earth’s atmosphere as well as the fireball phenomena.

Photographic photometry of fireball photographs allows the masses and physical parameters of meteoroids produced fireballs to be determined. The investigation of physical parameters of meteoroids is of great interest for understanding of physical properties of parent bodies of meteoroids, i.e. near-Earth objects: comets and asteroids. This is very important both scientifically, and because asteroids and comets represent a long-term danger for biosphere and the human species since they can cross the Earth’s orbit.

The search for and identification of NEOs which can be parent bodies of meteoroids producing fireballs, will be realized by investigation of orbital evolution of these meteoroids and of its possible associated NEOs using the methods of celestial mechanics. We intend to use all existing data on fireball showers and inpidual fireballs which alongside with obtained data on new fireballs detected in Tajikistan as well as by EN, Prairie Network (PN), and Canadian Network (MORP), form the database for computing process.

The accomplishment of project will:

  1. For the first time in Central Asia organize the fireball network in Tajikistan consisting of 5 stations equipped by photographic cameras with the “fish-eye” Zeiss Distagon lenses and by the digital (CCD) cameras.
  2. Carry out systematic photographic observations of fireballs, i.e. meteors brighter -4 magnitudes, in all clear cloudless nights during 3 years.
  3. Determine heights of beginning, maximum of brightness, and disappearance, velocities, radiants and orbits of fireballs photographed at least from 2 stations.
  4. Carry out photometric reduction of fireball photographs and determine masses and physical parameters of meteoroids produced fireballs.
  5. Determine possible association of photographed fireballs to the known meteor and fireball showers or to their branches.
  6. Search for the parent bodies of meteoroids produced fireballs among the near-Earth objects (comets and asteroids). Among the near-Earth asteroids to reveal extinct comets as well as real asteroids whose debris (fragments) produced fireballs.

The results obtained within the framework of proposed project are important for taking into account the asteroidal-meteoroid danger for space vehicles. The developed methods and preliminary results of investigation on the subject of project were published in the leading scientific journals (see e.g., Babadzhanov P.B. 2001, 2003; Babadzhanov P.B. & Williams I.P. 2007; Babadzhanov P.B. & Kokhirova G.I. 2007; Babadzhanov P.B. et al. 2008a, 2008b, 2008c) and widely are known to specialists.

The Proposed project will support significantly the fundamental researches in Tajikistan directed to study of asteroidal-meteoroid situation in the near-Earth cosmic space and will encourage (promote) the further integration of scientists of Tajikistan to the international scientific community.

Within the framework of the project proposal the role of Foreign Collaborators consists of a) the information exchange in the course of project implementation, b) the providing of comments to the technical reports (annual and quarter), submitted by the project participants to collaborators, c) the organizing of joint workshops and seminars, d) in compilation of possible joint papers for publication in scientific journals.