Cos 398: Correction and Question
Thu, 21 Dec 1995 02:48:16 -0500

In my earlier post I wrote regarding Cosmos 398:

>the orbit is fully "circularized."  I use the 
>quotes because at this point the orbit is not circular; it is 
>actually a spiral without eccentricity.  Apogee and perigee no longer 

I made this conclusion based on the reported decay of Cosmos 398 
on Dec 11 at 06 UT.

J.M. Marchant's quote from Aviation Week:

>"it fell into 
>the atmosphere and impacted about 200 miles north of the Falkland Islands
>at 2040 GMT"

A date wasn't given, but I assume it's Dec. 10.  In that case, the orbit
was still slightly eccentric (about 25 km difference between semi-major
and semi-minor axes) at decay and had not circularized as I had
said earlier.

Interestingly, the decay point of the Falklands is in an area where the
geoid transitions from a "hole" to a "hill" -- coincidence?  What is the
consensus out there with regards to any relation between localized hills
and dales in the earth's figure and inducing decay?

Good Passes,

Jim Varney          |  121^ 23' 54" W,  38^ 27' 28" N   |     Sacramento, CA
Civil Engineer      |            Elev. 20 ft.           |