NOAA's satellites getting ready for Leonid meteor showers (Forwarded)

Mark A. Hanning-Lee (mhanning-lee@syagen.com)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 13:16:29 -0800

Some sats will be reoriented during the time of the Leonid meteor
shower.

As a result, they may appear unusually bright or faint, due to a new
fixed orientation.

Interesting observing opportunities ...

Best, Mark


This is a message forwarded from the newsgroup sci.astro.

NOAA

Contact: Pat Viets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/8/99

99-073

NOAA's SATELLITES GETTING READY FOR LEONID METEOR SHOWERS

Satellite controllers at the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration are preparing the nation's environmental
satellites for the return of the Leonid Meteor event, currently
predicted to
peak during the early morning on Nov. 18.

Meteors, popularly known as shooting stars, can be seen on any night,
given a
sufficiently clear, dark sky. They are produced by the impact on the
Earth's
atmosphere of small dust grains released from comets. Most meteors
arrive
in "showers" at fixed times of the year, when the Earth passes close to
the
orbit of the parent comet.

The Leonid meteor display is associated with the Earth's passage through
the
Leonid stream. This stream consists of the debris of Tempel-Tuttle, a
comet
that orbits the Sun about every 33 years. Tempel-Tuttle is the source of
debris that gives rise to the Leonid meteor shower that peaks around
Nov.
17th each year.

To prepare for the event, NOAA's engineers are modifying configurations
for
all three types of environmental satellites. NOAA operates the
Geostationary
Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), the Polar-orbiting
Operational
Environmental Satellites (POES), and satellites in the Defense
Meteorological
Satellite Program (DMSP). The satellites are operated by controllers in
NOAA's
Suitland facility. The satellites provide weather and environmental data
vital
to forecasting the weather and monitoring the environment.

Spacecraft configuration changes will include the alignment of on-board
solar arrays to a position parallel to the storm radiant (or direction)
for
specific POES and DMSP satellites that, due to their orbital
configuration,
present a large solar array cross section to the storm radiant. In
addition,
specific sensors on-board the GOES and DMSP satellites will be
reconfigured
to better sense attitude or local space environmental disturbances that
could
be the result of meteoroid impacts. Although some command uploads may be
moved to reduce commanding during the predicted peak, satellite data and
products will not be impacted.

In addition to the configuration changes, engineering staff will augment
the normal operational support during the 24-hour period centered on the
predicted storm peak.

For more information on NOAA's satellite operations, visit:
     http://www.oso.noaa.gov/operations/

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