PAGEOS fragment 66056H may be near decay

Ted Molczan (molczan@fox.nstn.ca)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 02:06:09 -0400

Paul Sventek has alerted me to the collapse of 66056H's perigee,
which has occurred over the past few months. The object is a 
large sheet of aluminized mylar, so its orbit experiences strong 
perturbations due to SRP (Solar Radiation Pressure). It is the 
last of the large fragments from the breakup of Pageos in 1975.

On day 96052, 66056H's orbit was 86.8 deg and 1001 x 6696 km.
By day 96214 it had changed to 85.7 deg and 408 x 7048 km.

The apogee peaked at about day 96193 at 7066 km, and has been
declining ever since, due to the effect of atmospheric drag,
which has become increasingly significant as the perigee has
collapsed.

The rate of perigee collapse last peaked about day 96154, at 
7.3 km/d. Over the past two weeks, it has been steady at
about 2.4 km/d. My SRP elset propagator is on a 5.25 inch disk,
which I cannot read at the moment, so I cannot predict the
object's near-term future. However, it does appear to be at risk
of decaying from orbit. 

It is in the final weeks of evening visibility at the mid-northern
latitudes, making near-apogee passes. It will enter morning 
visibility later this month, making near-perigee passes. Even at
apogee, it is an easy binocular object, so observers should have
a look at it while they can. A recent elset has been appended.

Thank you Paul Sventek for the heads-up!

Ted Molczan

Pageos (H)       8.6  0.0  0.0  3.7
1 08074U 66056  H 96214.44782003  .00201308  00000-0  56735-1 0  1816
2 08074  85.6993 240.2017 3287588 166.9531 204.3663  8.55383330217269