RE: DART Launch Window

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Wed Aug 11 2004 - 12:02:18 EDT

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    Brian Webb asked:
    > Can anyone in the group run some predictions for MUBLCOM 
    > north-south passes for 2004 OCT 18 and 19 for 36.000 
    > N/123.000 W? I'm trying to determine DART's approximate launch time.
    Based upon MUBLCOM's latest elements (below), on 2004 Oct 18, at about 18:24:37
    UTC, its orbit will be coplanar, southbound, with the above coordinates. DART is
    likely to be launched near that time.
    Mublcom          0.2  1.0  0.0  8.9 d 1.94
    1 25736U 99026B   04224.23933368  .00000392  00000-0  12526-3 0  3209
    2 25736  97.7515 292.5943 0004559 136.0333 224.1241 14.44236097275173
    As a result of MUBLCOM's nearly sun-synchronous orbit, the planar launch window
    will arrive 18 s earlier per day of any delay of launch.
    NASA's fact sheet states that DART will rendezvous with MUBLCOM within 24 h of
    launch. A different on-line report adds that afterward, the spacecraft will
    leave its orbit and burn up during re-entry. I do not know the planned timeline.
    Their orbital plane will be within a visibility window for observers located
    well within 40 deg of the N pole, and 50 deg of the S pole.
    NASA's fact sheet states that DART is nearly 6 ft long and 3 ft in diameter (1.8
    m x 0.9 m), from which I estimate a standard magnitude of about 8 (1000 km, 90
    deg phase).
    MUBLCOM is much smaller and fainter. Below are observation reports by Ron Lee
    and Steve Newcomb. Neither observer reported its magnitude, but Ron reported
    using a telescope, and I believe Steve used one also.
    Ted Molczan
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