Observing ICESat

From: k.t.mag@att.net
Date: Sat Oct 11 2003 - 12:58:40 EDT

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     ICESat's orbit was changed recently and is now in a 91 day repeating ground 
    track orbit as opposed to the previous 8 day repeat with widely spaced ground 
    tracks..  Assuming the repeating ground tracks get evenly spaced around the 
    earth over the 91 days the tracks should be spaced approximately 14 miles apart 
    at 40 degrees north.  So with some patience ICESat may come close to you.
    I believe the laser is planned to be powered off around 12 November and turned 
    back on in March 2004.
    I have observed the laser three times now and for good viewing suggest getting 
    as close to the ground track as possible, hope for some thin clouds, and look 
    directly towards zenith.  When skis were clear observers have reported seeing 
    only a brief green flash at zenith but when there is some cloudiness to scatter 
    the beam the pass is much more interesting.
    This is likely the only satellite observation that is better with clouds.
    Gregg Hendry
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