Submillisecond fireball timing using de Bruijn timecodes

Robert M. Howie1, Jonathan Paxman1, Philip A. Bland2, Martin C. Towner2,Eleanor K. Sansom2, and Hadrien A. R. Devillepoix2
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1111/maps.12878]
1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia
2Department of Applied Geology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Long-exposure fireball photographs have been used to systematically record meteoroid trajectories, calculate heliocentric orbits, and determine meteorite fall positions since the mid-20th century. Periodic shuttering is used to determine meteoroid velocity, but up until this point, a separate method of precisely determining the arrival time of a meteoroid was required. We show it is possible to encode precise arrival times directly into the meteor image by driving the periodic shutter according to a particular pattern—a de Bruijn sequence—and eliminate the need for a separate subsystem to record absolute fireball timing. The Desert Fireball Network has implemented this approach using a microcontroller driven electro-optic shutter synchronized with GNSS UTC time to create small, simple, and cost-effective high-precision fireball observatories with submillisecond timing accuracy.

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