Introduction + FSW-1

J.M.Marchant (
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 22:01:54 +0000

Well I've been lurking reading this mailing list for a good few months, and
still haven't got round to introducing myself, until now, so here goes.

My interest in satellite observing started in childhood when I watched
these "moving stars" go over my house, and I'd be excited by the thought
that some of the brighter ones had people in, looking out the window and
waving down at us (well, that's what I thought then :)

These days my interest has become more academic, in that I'm researching
my PhD on the optical detection of space debris from the ground, using
pre-existing or custom-built telescope and CCD systems. I've written one
piece of software to identify regions of an observer's sky where you're
most likely to spot debris in a given orbit, and am currently developing
an automatic detection and tracking program to run primarily with the
FOX camera system, but could be extended to other imaging systems as well.
The debris itself is posing a bit of a problem right now though in that its 
optical surface qualities are not known very well - there isn't a Jane's 
Space Debris catalogue anywhere ;)

Anyway, that's my introduction - by the way, the latest Aviation Week
is running an article about this Chinese FSW-1 "spysat", and reports that
the parachute recovery system probably won't work. With a mass of 2 tons 
and an impact speed of several hundred miles per hour, it "could do as
much damage as a small bomb". Personally I prefer the "parachuting gently
down into Manhattan" scenario myself, I don't know about you....

  :  Jon Marchant               :                                       :
  :  Unit For Space Sciences    :       Email:            :
  :   & Astrophysics            :       Fax: +44-1227-762616            :
  :  University of Kent         :       Tel: +44-1227-764000x3266       :
  :  Canterbury CT2 7NR         :                                       :