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The Desert Fireball Network is an inter-disciplinary research group looking to uncover the mysteries surrounding the formation of the solar system through the study of meteorites, fireballs and their pre-Earth orbits.
First established in 2005 as a trial of three remote operated film cameras to observe meteors falling towards Earth’s surface, the DFN at Curtin University is now a national distributed network of over 50 disruption-tolerant and fully autonomous digital observatories that continually monitor 3 million square km of the night sky – a third of Australian skies, all night, every night. Using intelligent imaging systems, automated data reduction pipeline, real time server-side triangulation and supercomputer data management system, the DFN captures the paths of fireballs in the sky, triangulating trajectories from multiple viewpoints, linking the rock’s pre-Earth orbit to its landing site for recovery.
Together with partners across the world, the DFN is expanding to become a Global Fireball Observatory with stations internationally to observe these phenomena. Recovering meteorites with known orbits helps to address some of the biggest questions in planetary science: how our planetary system came into being, and how dust and gas produced a planet capable of supporting life – our Earth.