Just a few weeks ago, we reported on a US NASA project to track the path and estimate the size of meteoroids in the sky using a distributed network of a handful of cameras. It turns out that there’s a similar French effort, and it’s even cooler: the Fireball Recovery and InterPlanetary Observation Network (FRIPON). (The name is cute, if the acronym is contrived: a “fripon” is a trickster in French.)
What’s cool about FRIPON is that they’re not just observing the meteorites and fireballs, but they’re actually sending people out to recover them when they’re big enough that they look like they’ve landed. There are around one hundred stations, enough that the team can pinpoint a landing to within 30 square kilometers or so. After that it’s up to a ground crew of volunteers to actually walk the ground and find the things. They’ve had a number of finds.
Like NASA’s fireball network, we’d like to see this project opened up to encourage more participation. SatNOGS or Blitzortung are the models we have in mind: instead of going for small numbers of expensive stations, why not an open design that people can throw together with a Pi Zero and a camera? Instead of carefully coordinating and requiring high reliability from a very few stations, why not just take any data people are willing to give you?
Anyone want to take this up? An open-source global fireball detection network would be a shoe-in for next year’s Hackaday Prize if done right, and there are tons of cool stuff here: computer vision and meteorite hunting are just the tip of the iceberg.