Re: Geotail (22049, 92-44A)

Jim Scotti (jscotti@LPL.Arizona.EDU)
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 11:17:18 -0700 (MST)

Hi Ralph,
   We've observed Geotail with Spacewatch as well.  It served as a great
practice target for a new observer to get him up to speed on tracking what
we call "VFMO's" - Very Fast Moving Objects which often turn out to be
small meteoroids flying past Earth (but also often turn out to be debris
or spacecraft in high Earth orbit).  I was able to tell him "point the
telescope here and lets see what happens..." and he and Geotail did the
rest.  If you're interested check out the end of the following web page
with some images of spacecraft such as Geotail, NEAR, Galileo, and Cassini
taken with Spacewatch.


On 25 Mar 1998, Ralph McConahy wrote:

>      Ed Cannon wrote:
>      >>Now, I couldn't find it, but it seems like a few weeks ago 
>      >>there was mention of Geotail (22049, 92-44A).  The SSR 
>      >>reports that it decayed in October 1992.  Well, the 
>      >>following and related pages say it was in orbit at least 
>      >>until sometime in 1995, if not to the present day
>      I know Geotail is still up becuse we still track it. Geotail is not in 
>      an earth orbit. It is orbiting the sun at approximately 1 AU trailing 
>      the earth (its mission is to study the "tail" of the magnetosphere). 
>      It's distance from the earth varies greatly per project requirements. 
>      Typically, it trails the earth anywhere from 51,000 km to over 1.3 
>      million km.
>      My guess is that SSRs mention of "decay" on 10/19/92 is the solar 
>      orbit insertion date (i.e. it left earth orbit). It was launched on 
>      07/24/92.
>        Ralph McConahy
>        117.0064W  34.8839N  670m

Jim Scotti                              
Lunar & Planetary Laboratory 
University of Arizona                520/621-2717 
Tucson, AZ 85721 USA