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Using Deep Learning to Automate Inference of Meteoroid Pre-Entry Properties

  • Tarano, Ana Maria
  • Close, Sigrid
  • Gee, Jonathan
  • Mathias, Donovan
  • Wheeler, Lorien
Publication Date
Dec 09, 2019
NASA Technical Reports Server


Properly assessing the asteroid threat depends on the knowledge of asteroid pre-entry parameters, such as size, velocity, mass, density, and strength. Although a vast number of possible bodies to study exist, such characterization of asteroid populations is currently limited by substantial costs associated with space rendezvous missions and rare meteorite findings. As asteroids fragment, ablate, and decelerate in the atmosphere, they emit light detectable by ground-based and space-borne instruments. Earths atmosphere, thus, becomes an accessible laboratory that enables impactor risk assessments by facilitating inference of the pre-entry parameters. These asteroid pre-entry conditions are typically deduced by modeling the entry and breakup physics that best reproduce the observed light or energy deposition curve. However, this process requires extensive manual trial-and-error of uncertain modeling parameters. Automating meteor modeling and inference would improve property distributions used in risk assessments and enable population characterization as more light curves become more readily available through the presence of space assets and ground-based camera networks. We previously developed a genetic algorithm to automate meteor modeling by using the fragment-cloud model (FCM) to search for the values of the FCM input parameters (e.g., diameter) that generate energy deposition profiles that match the observed one. Now, we apply deep learning to infer asteroid diameter, velocity, and density from observed energy deposition curves. We trained and tested our neural network models with synthetic energy deposition curves modeled using the FCM rubble pile implementation. We present an application of a 1D convolutional neural network and compare its performance to other attempted regressors and machine learning techniques, such as a fully connected neural network and Random Forest regression, to demonstrate its capabilities. We validate our model weights and approach using the Chelyabinsk, Tagish Lake, Beneov, Koice, and Lost City meteors.

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