Mike's Astro Photos
Aug.15 2009

Satellite Imagery Update

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Satellite Imager

Satellite Imager

I continued my discussions with the satellite imagery company today and basically said: “what is it going to take to get new pictures of the target area in Lancaster quickly?” The sales guy said:

“Honestly it is a very very very random thing to have data from one day before you need it.  A satellite can only see a given location about every five days; for every location it can see, it can only image well less than 1% of the total area.  If you put this all together, you have about a 0.1% chance of getting an image of any given location inside the US in one year.”

With that being said, what are the chances that you would have the whole requested area photographed 1 day before the requested date!? 0.1% / 365 =

1 in 2.73972603 × 10-6????? = IMPOSSIBLE!

What are the chances of taking a picture of a fireball meteor through a telescope?


What are the chances of a jack ass backyard astronomer turned meteorite hunter finding meteorites in the cornfields of Amish Pennsylvania?


I see a theme developing here.

Lancaster Corn Maze - Great Fun For the Family!

Lancaster Corn Maze - Great Fun For the Family!

The July 5th images are incredible and that is a done deal, but I need images after July 6th. If I can find them I will have a perfect before and after comparison. I asked the guy if he could expedite my request if I paid a little more $$$. He said:

“You can pay more for higher priority but typically it is weather that is more important.  You might get lucky and get the data in one week with a new collection – you might get unlucky and not get it in 1 year.  There is no way to control this.  You could pay for rush which gives you the next access over the location, but if the data has 100% cloud cover you still have to pay $10,000!!!”

Regarding magnetic anomaly surveys he said:

“Magnetic sensors exist but is costs about $20,000 to put one up on an airplane and survey an area.”

My meteorite advisers have told me that a magnetic survey of this sort would only detect iron meteorites and not the more common types of meteorite. They also said the mass would have to be 1 ton to get picked up on a magnetic anomaly survey. In essence they have told me there is no chance of a magnetic survey picking up meteorites.

I asked this satellite guy to tell me all of his competitors so I could ask them if they had more recent photos, he said:

“I work with all high resolution color satellites (i.e. 80-cm resolution or better) that exist in the world.  You are welcome to check with other resellers but at this time there is no data over this location.  We are a top 3 reseller in the US market and I assure you that what I am telling you is the truth.”

Bell Helicopter

Bell Helicopter

Personally, despite what the meteorite experts tell me, I think having full satellite imagery over the target area one day before the event happened has some value… well above and beyond the data available on google earth. (the smartest people in the world disagree with me on this).

I believe comparing this ‘before’ data to fresh data will have value. If nothing results from it, it is one less thing I have to think about or consider. If I didn’t do it I would second guess myself to death.

Simultaneously to the satellite information requests I contacted Lancaster Helicopter about doing an aerial survey of the area. They are trained in this art and their location is less than 2 miles away from the target area (go figure). I have contracted them to record roughly 50 square kilometers, this is about 2x the area Rob Matson and Marc Fries have targeted. The survey should take place in 1.5 weeks.

MTB - Best Bank In Maryland & Pennsylvania

MTB - Best Bank In Maryland & Pennsylvania

I had a meeting today with a few VPs from M&T Bank. The meeting had nothing to do with the meteor, but they were following the story and of course it came up in conversation. I told them they could sponsor the Mason Dixon Meteor, they could put a MTB magnet on the helicopter when we survey the area. They were down with it. It will probably happen.Thanks Michele!

I blew out my back last night setting up my telescope. The last time I had turned the thing on was 7/11 (another cosmic number (love them big bites)). My back is killing me right now. There is no way I’m making it out to the field this weekend. No matter, I’m focusing on the intelligence war right now. I think the back injury is a sign from God telling me to slow down.


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