Crowdfunding campaign to close gap in meteor tracking network and support science in

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Credit: SETI Institute

June 7, 2021, Mountain View, CA – The SETI Institute has launched a crowdfunding campaign to close a gap in the global Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) network by helping to establish a world-class student-run meteor observatory in India.

“Three educational institutions in India will host the CAMS sites,” said Siddha Ganju, a computer scientist and AI expert. Ganju worked on automating the global CAMS data network and designed an ML algorithm to sift through each night’s data. “The new network creates massive amounts of data and will give computer science students hands-on experience with data processing and the opportunity to make breakthrough discoveries in planetary science.”

“CAMS is the world’s most comprehensive meteor-spotting effort, with networks in the USA, Europe and the United Arab Emirates in the northern hemisphere and New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil and Chile on the southern hemisphere,” said Peter Jenniskens, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute, who leads the program.

“The prime purpose of CAMS is to spot the brief and irregular meteor showers that ‘rain stars at night’,” said Jenniskens. “To do so, we need eyes on the entire sky, but there is a gap in coverage in the Northeastern hemisphere.”

Each CAMS network uses an array of low-light video surveillance cameras positioned at stations 40 to 110 kilometers apart that watch the nighttime sky. Meteors filmed at more than one site are triangulated to calculate their direction and speed, allowing astronomers to calculate their orbit in space and to trace the material’s origin to its parent body.

“CAMS is enriching our knowledge of the solar system by adding newly detected meteoroid streams annually,” said Jenniskens. “The CAMS network recently showed that those meteoroid streams can provide situational awareness for dangerous comets that pass close to Earth orbit and are known to return as infrequent as once every 4,000 years.”

The daily generated maps of meteor shower activity are posted online each morning at the interactive website https://meteorshowers.seti.org.

A newly established CAMS India will be fostering the next generation of planetary scientists to become familiar with this field and make breakthrough discoveries about our universe from their unique view of the night sky. Backers of this project will pay towards the 48 cameras and computers needed to create the new network.

“Building a CAMS observatory in India will let us have a sky map of meteors across the globe,” said Vaibhavi Gawas, BS and MS, Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. “It will present a notable opportunity for our students aspiring to be astronomers and data scientists to work and get directly involved in major science projects.”

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The CAMS crowdfunding campaign runs through June 20, 2021. More information can be found here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keep-eyes-on-the-entire-night-sky#/.

About the SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the Universe and to share that knowledge with the world. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.

Contact Information:

Rebecca McDonald

Director of Communications

SETI Institute

rmcdonald@SETI.org


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