Observations of Unknowns

Robert Sheaffer (sheaffer@netcom.com)
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 16:42:25 -0700

Allen Thomson
> [observations of three mag 3-4 unidentifiable satellites deleted]
>     One possibility is that these are objects with such low radar cross-sections
> that SPACECOM, which relies on VHF and UHF radars to conduct surveillance of LEO, 
> has simply failed to detect them. Optically bright, very low rcs objects are not
> unknown, viz:
>    The existence of this object and the data that has [sic] been 
>    obtained lend credence to the theory that there is a population 
>    of optically bright objects that appear quite small to a radar. 
>    In fact, it is possible that many of the unknown objects 
>    detected by optical sensors could fall into this area."

Verrrrrrry interesting. Maybe that's one of the real contributions that 
we amateur satellite-gawkers can make - to help identify, and catalog
these unlisted objects.

For example, I posted some observations of what *might* be the same
unknown object (same magnitude & same apparent path) on two different 
nights. If somebody who is familiar with setting up TLEs from observations 
were to draw up a TLE for an object HYPO-0001 (for "hypothetical object
number 1"), that would enable some rough predictions to be made. If a new
object can be observed in the future matching those approximate predictions,
then we can get some exact positions, and derive a proper orbit.
If not, we will know that HYPO-0001 is only hypothetical, and not real,
and go on to something else.

How difficult would it be to try to build TLEs to attempt to identify
such objects?

        Robert Sheaffer - robert@debunker.com - Skeptical to the Max!
             my new GPS tells me I'm at 37 deg 17.3' N., 
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