The earliest recorded observation of meteor scatter was by Hantaro Nagaoka of Nagasaki, Japan. He was then the chief physicist at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo. In 1929 he published a paper on his findings titled "The Possibility of radio Transmissions Being Disturbed by Meteoric Showers." It sounds dry, but the 1929 Volume 5 issue of the Imperial Japanese Academy of Tokyo became a classic. The NRAO described his breakthrough
Nagaoka was impressed with the coincidence of height (~100 km) between the ionospheric layer and where visual meteors occur. Not only might meteors directly cause quick ionization, but he argued that long-lived fine dust resulting from disintegration of the original meteor particles would act as nuclei for collecting ions or electrons from the surroundings, thus causing a region of less ionization, or a "disturbance"In 1931, Greenleaf Whittier Pickard made his own observations on the phenomena. He noticed that bursts of long distance propagation occurred during meteor showers. He published his paper "A Note on the Relation of Meteor Showers and Radio Reception" in July 1931.
here. He assumed three crucial and correct details:
- Meteors as a class could contribute, along with cosmic rays, the bulk of the energy needed to maintain charged particles in the ionosphere.
- A large meteor could produce as many as 1,000,000 electrons and a critical mass of ions. (enough to effect radio)
- The variation in the strength of shortwave radio signals indicates turbulence in the ionosphere caused by the constant mixing action of the meteors.
It is generally the case that frequencies between 50 to 80 MHz are ideal for meteor scatter communication. The FM band itself (88.1 – 107.9 MHz) also works quite well. During meteor showers, laypeople can still perform basic experiments and get recognizable results. All you need is to know when the metoer showers are. Here's what fun to look for in 2011"It may seem that the Janet technique was somewhat wasteful of spectrum space because of the relatively high instantaneous signaling rates which are required to achieve modest average information rates. This defect was offset by the fact that Janet systems, using the same frequency assignments, can be located much closer to each other than can other systems operating over comparable distances."