Re: Unidentified Bright Tumbling Satellite - Identified

Robert Sheaffer (sheaffer@netcom.com)
Mon, 2 Sep 1996 09:52:18 -0700 (PDT)

Ted Molczan
> 
> I ran another ephemeris with the very latest elset available from =
> NASA/GSFC/OIG:
> 
> 1 23705U 95058B   96243.08136366 -.00000047 +00000-0 +00000-0 0 01164
> 2 23705 071.0241 115.8599 0013300 339.3969 020.6604 14.14164336042873

The elements in your latest (Aug. 30) file predicted that the object,
if it were Cosmos 2322 r, would reappear the following evening,
passing near the zenith at 20:36:40. (Sep. 2 03:36:40 UT)
This is exactly what happened.
So the identity of the tumbler is now known. Once again, the 
brightness was greater than predicted, M 2 to 2.5 at its peak. 
Using a tape recorder and later a stopwatch, I timed the duration
of ten tumbles at 21.2 seconds, which exactly matches the tumbling
rate you stated.
> 
> This one reveals a slight growth in altitude, and hence orbital period,
> but produces culmination at 01:50:40 UTC on 01 Sep, some 2 minutes and
> 40 seconds earlier than your observation. I can produce culmination
> at the time you reported by forcing ndot/2 to -0.0061, but such a high
> value seems rather unlikely. Venting or explosions can cause=20
> accelerations, but that would almost certainly have affected the flash =
> period. A check of my records reveals that Russell Eberst observed the =
> object on 14 Aug 96, and reported a 2 s flash period, the same as you=20
> reported, so there has been no significant change.
> 
> How confident are you in the culmination time you reported?

The time of the first observation is based upon numbers scribbled
in the dark (as I wasn't *expecting* to see anything unusual!). So
I suppose it's possible that I might be reading it wrong. The elements
in your "new_molc" of Aug. 30 peg this one pretty closely. In
the future, I'll use a tape recorder to make notes of timings.

-- 

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