TSS Sightings

Maley, Paul D. (PMALEY@GP808.jsc.nasa.gov)
Thu, 07 Mar 1996 11:27:06 -0600

I have just recently returned from Australia where I attempted observation 
from Darwin during four days of favorable passes. However, the skies never 
cleared. On Feb. 29 I flew to Cairns on the norhteast coast and finally 
observed the TSS on March 1 at 0928 GMT. The moon was waxing and high phase 
but the 76 degree elevation pass proved wonderful to see. The TSS satellite 
was seen at about magnitude +2.5, the tether around +2.5 to +3. At the 
bottom a bright spot, possibly corresponding to a ball of tether, could be 
seen at around magnitude +5.  Ranges varied from 350km to 640km.

On March 3 I flew to Ayers Rock, in central Australia to pick up two days of 
good passes. TSS was sighted again on March 3 at 1015GMT from 150 km east of 
Ayers Rock at a maximum elevation of 49 degrees. Four minutes of video were 
recorded beginning with bright twilight and ending near an almost full moon. 
The tether varied between 1.0 and 1.7 degrees in length which corresponds to 
an apparent maximum length of 14.4 km. Finally on March 4 at 1041GMT TSS was 
seen again, this time a tiny portion of tether at the "bottom" was seen as 
lagging behind slightly with the bright spot tailing off at an angle. The 
rest (about 90% or more of the length) appeared very linear and was observed 
at magnitude +2.5 to +3.0 at a maximum elevation of 68 degrees. Observation 
was conducted inside Uluru National park at the Ayers Rock helipad.

Favorably passes begin from here in Houston tomorrow morning. I plan to show 
this video at Eurosom 2 this fall.

Paul Maley