92- 36 B (22007) accelerated !

Bart De Pontieu (BDP@MPE.MPE-GARCHING.MPG.DE)
Tue, 02 Jan 1996 23:13:23 +0100 (CET)

Back on December 10, Kurt Jonckheere of the Belgian Working Group
Satellites wrote (in SeeSat message 1259) about the behaviour of 92- 36 B
(#22007):

>Until the end of Novembre 1995 the semi major 
>axis remained approximately constant at 7354.4 km.  
>Last two weeks, it changed very fast.
[...]
>a jump of about 2.5 km (!) in one week, which is still going on.
>Something very particular must have happened.
>Was it hit by a meteorite and is residual fuel
>gassing out now? Is the rocket accelerating? 

The answer is yes, since Paul Maley sent me this observing report last
week :

>22007 observed 12/29 at 0157 with flash period at 2.41 seconds with max 
>reaching 2.5 magnitude, based on 60 cycles timed. This is the same object 
>that someone on the net noted had a big mean motion jump. The only obs I saw 
>in FLASH had it in February with a long period variation. Observation with 
>7x35 binoculars and recorded on video. This is a nice object!

Paul further asks :

>Are there any observations on file of 22007 since February? 

A quick 'grep' of our flash period archive PPAS gives :

ID       Date     Time UT    Obs               FP     Remarks
92- 36 B 95-02-12 18:58      BD                       slow var
92- 36 B 95-02-10 02:38      MM                       S, 5.5
92- 36 B 95-02-19 18:27      LB                       almost S, mag 6
92- 36 B 95-02-19 11:42:01   DSB                      STEADY +5
92- 36 B 95-02-21 17:30      LB                       long P, var 5->inv
92- 36 B 95-02-28 18:39:38   LB  170.7 0.5   4 42.7   AA, mag 4->6
92- 36 B 95-05-02 22:22:15   RO        20      137    mag 7 to 10
92- 36 B 95-07-31 22:28      LB                       almost S, mag 5

So, it was steady (or long-period) until at least August, but I would wager 
that it was probably steady until the semi major axis started changing at 
the end of November. 

To my knowledge, this is the very first time someone correctly predicted an
acceleration of a tumbling rocket. Congratulations and thanks to :

- Kurt Jonckheere for his stubborn effort in tracking orbital elements changes 
of suspect boosters
- Paul Maley for his observation (and bringing it to my attention) 
- and all  other observers for observing it in the past year when it was still
'boring' (Bram Dorreman, Mike McCants, Leo Barhorst, Douglas Biggerstaff and 
Jean-Pierre Rohart).

This object is now absolute top-priority, maybe we can still see part of the
acceleration ? Here are the most recent elements from OIG :

1 22007U 92036B   96002.51106412  .00006066  00000-0  61060-2 0  5885
2 22007  82.9296  20.4170 0030987 311.1567  48.6931 13.77038705104528

I'm always available for questions on how to measure flash periods. Alter-
natively, check out the Visual Satellite Observers Home Page at :
http://www.rzg.mpg.de/~bdp/satintro.html

Cheers,
   Bart De Pontieu