Tue, 27 Jan 1998 11:58:03 EST

Thank you Craig for the websites on the EGP's.  I was glad to see an image of
this satellite at:

I remember first hearing about the EGP a long time ago but I never had a
chance to see what the satellite actually looked like.  If I may elaborate,
below is a brief description and introduction to this satellite.

EGP, acronymn for Experimental Geodetic Payload, also known as EGS or
Experimental Geodetic Satellite.  Also known as Ajisai (Hydrangea flower).

This satellite was launched on the first test flight of the H-1 rocket in
August 1986.  It is a sphere  with a diameter of 7 feet (2.1 meters)  and is
covered with mirrors and corner cube reflectors.  The cornercube reflectors
are invisible to observers and were designed to reflect laser beams.  The
mirrors on the other hand were designed to reflect sunlight so the satellite
could be photographed by ground stations for precise geodetic surveying
measurements.  The glints are in the third magnitude range but are best
visible in dark skies.  The flashes are quite short and are best observed with
binoculars.  Because of the extremely high orbital altitude of 1500 km, EGP is
often visible closer to midnight than other satellites and can frequently be
seen on as many as four orbits during a single observing session.

Dan Poeder