NOSS satellites
Tue, 19 Aug 1997 23:55:19 -0400 (EDT)

Regarding Leigh Palmer's observation of differing magnitudes for NOSS 2-2

I have logged the triangle's "base" SSU's (that's what I've seen them
referred to, and I don't remember what that stands for, but I am told each
cluster has one carrier bus and three subsatellites) consistently brighter
than the "point" SSU for the 2-1, 2-2, 7, and 8 clusters, although rarely do
any of them stay at the same mag throughout the pass. These all appear to fly
"point" first. I have the 2-3 logged as flying "base" first, but maybe I was
up too late that night. 

My question is: what shapes are these really arranged in? Equilateral
triangle, isosceles triangle, right triangle...? It's very difficult to tell
because of the changing viewing angles, and I'm never sure exactly how
they're oriented to my line of sight. Also, I've noticed one of the clusters
forms a very long and narrow triangle. Is this all an illusion or do they
each have their own specific arrangements? Do the three SSU's maintain
position relative to each other or is this compensated for in the
triangulation process? One more question while I'm at it: does anyone here
know what these satellites look like?

Eric Vondra
Pittsburgh PA USA