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Meteor Shower Sets Off Scientific Storm

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Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1032
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1032

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BOSTON-- On 14 November, Earth will start plowing through a fresh stream of particles that boiled off the surface of comet Tempel-Tuttle and were left behind during its first visit to the solar system in 33 years. The U.S. Air Force and Canadian astronomers will be gathering real-time data in the Gobi desert of Mongolia and the Australian outback in order to alert satellite operators to the potential for disruption or damage if the debris is heavy; NASA says the concerns are overblown. But the fact is the comet's exact trajectory is hard to pinpoint, and the gravity of other planets can pull the debris stream away from an intercept with Earth; a slight perturbation can therefore mean the difference between a few dozen and thousands of meteors an hour.