TRMM/ETS-7 (97-74__) objects

Ed Cannon (
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 00:37:16 -0600

A couple of days ago I reported two flashes, one to -1, from 
object #25066 (97-74D).  

The following night, at 1:03:52 UTC on 13 Dec 1997 it did 
another very bright flash.  

Last night (14 Dec 1997 UTC) I observed #25063 (97-74A) as an 
easy one-power object at around 00:24.  At 00:43 I looked for 
#25064 (97-74B) but saw nothing.  At 00:53 I looked for #25065 
(97-74B) and was very surprised to see a very bright, slowly 
tumbling object with maxima of about zero.

My location for the above obs. was outside my apartment: 
30.3086N, 97.7279W, 150m -- a poor location.

Tonight (15 Dec 1997 UTC) from the Univ. of Texas at Austin
campus (30.286N, 97.739W, 150m -- another poor location) I 
was able to observe three of the 97-74 objects at one-power.  
Again, at around 00:12-14 (solar elev. -8.5 deg), I saw 
#25065 (97-74C) tumbling slowly with maxima of about mag. 0.  
>From 00:28-30 I observed #25066 (97-74D) as a fairly steady 
object that reached +2 as it passed about 3 degrees above 
Polaris (alpha UMa).  But it did exhibit one bright flash at 
00:28:38.  Then at 00:47 I watched #25063 (97-74A), which 
also appeared to me to reach about mag. +2, with no unusual 
behavior.  Also, again tonight I looked for #25064 (97-74B), 
at 00:24, but saw nothing.

If the ETS-7 objects have not separated, they comprise an 
object with three solar panels, the support of one being 
perpendicular to the other two.  It weighs about 3 tons, but 
I haven't been able to find its dimensions yet.

In the launch photos and according to H-2 page, there was a
payload fairing.

According to the TRMM Web site:   (select "Latest News")

its final descent maneuver was performed on Sunday, Dec. 7, 
with prior maneuvers on Dec. 3, 4, and 5.  An orbital adjust 
maneuver is scheduled for Dec. 18.

A lot of details on and diagram of the H-2 launch system:

I'm sure interested in the final determination regarding the
identities of the 97-74 objects!

Different topic:

There are two interesting articles on the idea "Danger of space 
debris to shuttles underestimated" at and

Ed Cannon
Austin, Texas, USA