RE: The Grand Archive: a proposal

Ted Molczan (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 18:26:28 -0400

In each report, the objects are sorted 
in ascending order of NORAD catalogue 
number. The first of the each object's 
elsets is the most recent epoch; the 
remainder are unsorted.

After about 1990, I received a weekly
report listing the latest elset of each
payload and rocket body, and a small
number of debris objects requested by
myself and other recipients. The format
was 21.6 x 27.9 cm, portrait, printed on
both sides. Objects were listed in order
of ascending NORAD catalogue number. The
reports are full-sized photocopies of 
laser-printer output. Most of the data
probably is machine-readable.

On disk, I have all but a few of my 
earliest weekly xxx.n2l files, which date
back to early 1990. These files include
hobbyist-produced elsets of many objects 
for which NORAD does not release elements.

Also, I have many of TS Kelso's weekly 
tle files, from the late 1980's to early 
1996. Finally, there are many SGP quality 
pseudo-NORAD format elsets in my e-mail 
correspondence from the late 1980's to 
the present.

I have long believed that the paper
archives should be converted to electronic
form, but obviously this will be a huge
project. It occurs to me that NASA/OIG
might have at least some of the past 
39 years of orbital history on disk or
tape, in which case, perhaps they would
be able to assist us. As I recall,
NASA/GSFC does maintain a permanent,
comprehensive archive of data transmitted
by NASA's scientific earth satellites.
Perhaps they have seen fit to include an
orbital history of all space objects.
Perhaps NASA/GSFC could become a host site
of the Grand Archive. We should at least 
ask the question. I am willing to do so.

If NASA cannot assist us, then we will have
to consider how best to convert the paper
archives to electronic form. Obviously this
would include both image scanning and manual
entry. We may conclude that it is not necessary
to electronically archive every single paper 
elset; perhaps we can sample them at intervals 
that guarantee some minimum ephemeris
precision between successive epochs.

I like the idea of e-mailing the data to a 
designated site(s). On-line access and CD-ROM
distribution are excellent ideas.

Ted Molczan