Terrestrial Observatories and their Role in Meteorite Detection: A Global Overview and the Importance of the Czech Republic.
Meteorites, cosmic bodies from the depths of space that impact Earth, play a key role in scientific research. These pieces of the universe provide us with valuable information about our solar system, including the origin of Earth. Therefore, the detection and analysis of meteorites are so important. Terrestrial observatories play a pivotal role in this, both at the international level and within specific countries, like the Czech Republic.
Ground-based observatories and their networks are spread around the world to track and detect meteors. Their work makes it possible to identify and classify these space objects in a timely manner. These observatories use a wide range of technologies, including radial, optical and infrared sensors, to track and analyse meteorites in real time.
One of the most important global networks is NASA's Fireball Network, which tracks meteorites and fireballs with the help of 17 stations located around the world. Another major global project is the Meteoritical Society, which provides meteorite classification and other research.
Czech Republic in meteorite detection
The Czech Republic and its observatories are part of the European bolide network. The European bolide network is a system of 34 stations in several European countries. The Czech Republic, as the founder of this network, has a specific position in the field of meteorite detection. The network of ground-based observatories is very dense and technologically advanced, which allows very precise localization of meteorite impact areas. This capability is crucial for fast and efficient sample collection, which is invaluable for scientific research.
The most important institution in this area is the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), which manages this network, including the Ondřejov Observatory, one of the most important observatories in Central Europe. The Czech Republic is also known for having several sites where rare types of meteorites have been discovered, which only adds to the country's importance in meteorite research.
In recent years, several successful cases have been recorded where the European bolide network in the Czech Republic has been able to successfully detect meteorite impact areas.
One of the cases took place in 2016, when researchers from the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences correctly calculated the impact area of a meteorite near Hradec Králové. A few months later, an amateur meteorite hunter did indeed successfully find the meteorite he was looking for and contacted the Czech Academy of Sciences for further analysis.
Another example is the detection of a meteorite that fell in 2022 in the area of Pustá Úlana in Slovakia. Thanks to the precise calculations of the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic, it was possible to quickly locate the impact area and contact colleagues in Slovakia. 3 months later, an amateur searcher from Poland found the meteorite in the calculated area.
As a third well-known case, we can mention again the year 2016, when a very bright meteor-bolide attracted the attention of a large number of Central Europeans with its light and sound displays. Researchers from the Czech Republic again correctly calculated its impact area, which this time was in Bavaria, Germany. The calculation was so accurate that less than a week later, German colleagues celebrated the success of finding a 45-gram piece of the meteorite.
These and other successes demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of the Czech network of ground-based observatories and their contribution to the scientific community.