C* 1953, C* 1933 family and solar panels

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Sat, 4 Feb 1995 12:37:27 -0500

> Subject: 88- 50 A (Cosmos 1953) discovered flashing

Whoops!  Didn't I mention C* 1953 at some point?  It is presently one of
the more spectacular objects in the C* 1933 family.  If there are no
earlier reports of flashing, then the ones below tell a very, very
interesting story.  And I am embarrassed for not (?) reporting it.

The location shown below is a remeasured value for the same location I
have been using since mid-1994.  I actually have two sites separated by
about 10m.

Walter I. Nissen, Jr., CDP, dk058@cleveland.freenet.edu, 55 Barrett RD #808,
Berea, OH 44017-1657, USA, 216-243-4980, -81d 51.823', 41d 22.413', 256m, 7x35
88- 50 A 94-11-10 11         WN     S                  C* 1953, S, poorly seen
88- 50 A 94-11-12  0         WN     S                  C* 1953, S, mag 3? at C
88- 50 A 94-11-13 23         WN     S                  C* 1953, S
88- 50 A 94-11-14 10:57:20   WN     S                  C* 1953, S, except:
88- 50 A 94-11-14 10:59:39.3 WN                        C* 1953, mag 3? F!
88- 50 A 94-11-14 11: 0:34.5 WN                        C* 1953, sudden dis
88- 50 A 94-11-17 10:16:45.6 WN  147.3 0.8  34  4.33   C* 1953, incredible,
                                                       irreg, bright Fs
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:54:49.4 WN    4.4 0.8   1  4.4    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:54:53.8 WN    4.1 0.8   1  4.1    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:54:57.9 WN    2.8 0.8   1  2.8    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:55:  .6 WN    1.5 0.8   1  1.5    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:55: 2.1 WN    3.4 0.8   1  3.4    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:55: 5.5 WN    4.1 0.8   1  4.1    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:55: 9.6 WN    1.3 0.8   1  1.3    C* 1953
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:55:10.9 WN   65.4 0.8  15  4.36   C* 1953, irreg, A'A'
88- 50 A 94-11-19 10:56:16.3 WN   69.8 0.8  16  4.36   C* 1953, irreg, A'A'
88- 50 A 95-02-03  0:27:38.4 WN   76.9 0.8  23  3.35   C* 1953, irreg, A'A'
As usual, my log shows more detail than I report here.

Since I discovered C* 1933 to be flashing in a spectacularly irregular
way, a way which suggested that it might be in distress, I have been
interested in trying to verify the obvious theory.  Which is:
1)  These large, valuable payloads use propellant to stabilize during
their useful life.
2)  At some point, possibly terminating their useful life, they suffer
catastrophic failure of attitude control, often (?) due to exhaustion of
the propellant supply.  They begin tumbling wildly.  Consequently, they
flash.  The flashes can include full solar panel reflection.
3)  Thereafter, eddy currents within the object and the Earth's magnetic
field slow the rotation and eventually end virtually all the flashing,
except for, (is this the right term?), synodic effect.

Based mainly on orbital elements, these are the ones that seem to form
the C* 1933 family:
10973  78067A  C* 1025          16791  86046A  C* 1758
11266  79011A  C* 1076          16881  86055A  C* 1766
11671  80005A  C* 1151          16986  86074A  C* 1782
12785  81082A  C* 1300          17191  86097A  C* 1805
12987  81117A  C* 1328          17295  87003A  C* 1812
13271  82059A  C* 1378          17566  87024A  C* 1825
13552  82092A  C* 1408          17911  87038A  C* 1842
14032  83037A  C* 1455          18152  87055A  C* 1862
14147  83061A  C* 1470          18214  87062A  C* 1869
14372  83099A  C* 1500          18421  87088A  C* 1892
14551  83122A  C* 1515          18748  88001A  C* 1908
14699  84013A  C* 1536          18958  88020A  C* 1933
14819  84027A  C* 1544          19210  88050A  C* 1953
15331  84105A  C* 1602          19274  88056A  Okean 1
15369  84111A  C* 1606          19573  88093A  C* 1975
15494  85009A  C* 1626          20465  90010A  C* 2058
15592  85020A  C* 1633          20510  90018A  OKEAN 2
15889  85058A  C* 1666          21397  91039A  OKEAN 3
15944  85069A  C* 1674          21422  91042A  C* 2151
16262  85108A  C* 1703          22236  92080A  C* 2221
16326  85113A  C* 1707          22286  92094A  C* 2228
16495  86006A  C* 1726          22626  93024A  C* 2242
16611  86018A  C* 1733          23317  94066A  OKEAN 1-7
16719  86034A  C* 1743

Quite a few of them have been seen to flash, e.g., from my own log, 1703,
1892, 2058, 2151, 2242.  I have observed many dozens of unreported
passages, most of them S for minutes on end, where S excepts smooth
variation due to range and phase, and apparent seeing effects.

I'm most interested in receiving observations of these, including radio
monitoring to confirm operational intervals.  BDP was kind enough to
provide the PPAS observations (in overwhelming quantity.  I keep trying).

According to BDP, you can see full solar panel reflection from an
operating satellite.  I question this based on efficiency (it has to be
pointed at the Sun) and experience (I can't think of many examples of
really bright flashers).  Some flashers I've seen are:
10820  78 42A  DMSP F3
11060  78 96A  Tiros N
19460  88 78A  USA 32
21949  92 23A  USA 81
23099  94 27A  SROSS-C2

Ryan Rudnicki, thanks for triggering this summary by your observation
and report.  In reporting observations, you act more responsibly than I.

Cheers.