Interesting satellite

From: Greg Roberts (
Date: Thu Jan 24 2002 - 02:55:56 EST

  • Next message: Greg Roberts: "IOD obs 79104N"

    Hi All
    Whilst doing an 80 minute orbit plane scan for a lost classified satellite,
    using my homemade CoSaTrak tracking system, I observed a slow moving
    satellite cross the edge of my video monitors field of view. The satellite
    was visible for about a minute and was about magnitude +07.4 and steady.  On
    running predictions for the area in question it looks like the satellite was
    79104N which is in a 382.6 minute orbit at an inclination of around 15
    degrees and rather high eccentricity giving it a perigee of around 708
    kilometres and an apogee  of around 21460 kilometres.  At the time of my
    observation the predicted range was 13800 kilometres approximately.
     What makes this interesting is the following:
    (1) although the launch identification indicates it was launched in 1979 -
    an early Ariane launch, it was only cataloged recently - catalog number
    (2) the satellite is quite bright so must be reasonably large - I estimate a
    standard magnitue of around +03.5 - so how come it has only now been
    catalogued some 20 odd years later ?  I suspect that the identity "tie-up"
    is incorrect . Part of the problem is the low inclination but even at medium
    altitudes it will be in easy reach of higher latitudes so why havent
    amateurs picked it up between 1979 and now ?
    Anyway have a go at it - I attach the element set I used and the satellite
    was less than a minute early, even though I was using the SGP4 prediction
    1 26532U 79104N   02001.70205919 +.00003528 +00000-0 +41087-1 0 00344
    2 26532  015.5447 156.5867 5941435 130.0887 299.9421 03.76404222033554
    (hope the formating does not get mangled in OUTLOOK EXPRESS! )
    For those interested I will attach the IOD report of positions observed in a
    seperate message.
    Cape Town, South Africa
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jan 24 2002 - 12:10:19 EST