most kilometerage

Robert G Fenske Jr (fenske@rgfpc.electro.swri.edu)
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 18:05:01 -0600 (CST)

	The upcoming 40th aniversary of the launch of Vanguard I prompted
me to write a script to calculate the distance travelled for each
satellite still in orbit and sort the results.  I made the assumption
that the mean motion in the most recent alldat.tle file represents the
mean motion for the entire time a satellite has been in orbit.  And I used
the approximation for an ellipse's circumference: L = pi*(1.5*(a+b) -
sqrt(a*b)).
	Here is the top ten plus Vanguard I:

     10^9
rank  km    mm    launch date  cat #  name

01  9.280  14.62  1959 Oct 13  00022  Explorer VII
02  9.110  14.98  1960 Nov 23  00063  Tiros II
03  9.068  14.77  1960 Jun 22  00841  deb Transit IIA
04  9.062  14.74  1960 Jun 22  00840  deb Transit IIA
05  9.060  14.66  1960 Apr 01  00029  Tiros I
06  9.057  14.65  1960 Apr 01  00115  Tiros I despin weight
07  8.987  14.38  1960 Jun 22  00046  Solrad I
08  8.980  14.35  1960 Jun 22  00047  r/b Ablestar
09  8.967  14.28  1960 Jun 22  00045  Transit IIA
10  8.947  14.16  1960 Nov 03  00060  Explorer VIII
		.
		.
55  8.531  10.82  1958 Mar 17  00005  Vanguard I

	Note that #2 through #6 have higher mean motions than #1, so they
will eventually overtake Explorer VII as the most travelled.  Tiros II
will take about 94 years to do so.  And Vanguard I will fall farther and
farther behind.  But its last laugh is that it will probably be in orbit a
lot longer than its speedier bretheren.  Maybe I'll post a new list at
Vanguard I's 400th anniversary ...


Robert Fenske, Jr.   rfenske@swri.edu    Sw     |The Taming the C*sm*s series:
Southwest Research Institute            /R---\  |
Signal Exploitation & Geolocation Div  | I    | |"The Martian canals were the
San Antonio,Texas USA  ph:210-522-3931  \----/  | Martians' last ditch effort."