First results of optical meteor and meteor trail irregularity from simultaneous Sanya radar and video observations
Meteoroids entering the Earth's atmosphere can create meteor trail irregularity seriously disturbing the background ionosphere. Although numerous observations of meteor trail irregularities were performed with VHF/UHF coherent scatter radars in the past, no simultaneous radar and optical instruments were employed to investigate the characteristics of meteor trail irregularity and its corresponding meteoroid. By installing multiple video cameras near the Sanya VHF radar site, an observational campaign was conducted during the period from November 2016 to February 2017. A total of 242 optical meteors with simultaneous non-specular echoes backscattered from the plasma irregularities generated in the corresponding meteor trails were identified. A good agreement between the angular positions of non-specular echoes derived from the Sanya radar interferometer and those of optical meteors was found, validating that the radar system phase offsets have been properly calibrated. The results also verify the interferometry capability of Sanya radar for meteor trail irregularity observation. The non-specular echoes with simultaneous optical meteors were detected at magnetic aspect angles greater than ~78°. Based on the meteor visual magnitude estimated from the optical data, it was found that the radar non-specular echoes corresponding to brighter meteors survived for longer duration. This could provide observational evidence for the significance of meteoroid mass on the duration of meteor trail irregularity. On the other hand, the simultaneous radar and video common-volume observations showed that there were some cases with optical meteors but without radar non-specular echoes. One possibility could be that some of the optical meteors appeared at extremely low altitudes where meteor trail irregularities rarely occur.