Smartphone app can help track, identify meteors falling to Earth

A smartphone app can track meteors as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, sending information back to users about their sightings, its Australian developers say.

Developed by a team at Curtin University, the app called Fireballs in the Sky can return details on what created the fireball and where it came from in the solar system.

App users are asked to point at the sky where they think the fireball started and click on their phones, then do the same for where they think it ended.

Created by the Desert Fireball Network, a Curtin University project designed to track meteorites as they fall to Earth by capturing meteors and fireballs on camera, the app can be used from anywhere in the world, its developers said.

“If we get enough observations we can determine a trajectory and send that information back to you — for instance, you might get a message that the rock that made your fireball came from the outer asteroid belt, or that it was a chunk of a comet,” team member Phil Bland told the BBC.

Using a phone’s accelerometer, GPS and compass, the app can provide enough data to be used to create a crowdsourced smartphone fireball network, he said.

“Essentially, members of the public can help us track anything that’s coming through the atmosphere.”


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