Ariane 502 payload observations

Sun, 2 Nov 1997 07:39:22 -0600

Due to bad weather on Nov. 1, I was finally able to observe 3 objects
associated with the Ariane 502 launch during two periods: Nov. 2 at 0540UTC
and again at 11:00UTC for about 15 minutes each time. Distance between 1st
and 3rd objects about 1.4 degrees in 15cm binoculars. Initially each object
observed in 40cm reflector then rotated to the 15cm binocular.

All objects magnitudes reported at range of 17,000 km. 20524= magnitude 9.7
with variation of plus or minus 0.2 magnitude; 25026 was consistently faint
at 12.5-13.2 but during the second run, I timed 3 irregular brightenings
that looked like flares to 9.0; 25023 was rotating and remained 8.7-9 much
of the time but faded to 11.5. The cycle betweeen minima was 251 seconds for
the first of two cycles, then 260 seconds for the second. I could keep the
1st and 3rd objects in view the whole time and waited for the random flashes
from the 2nd object. 

Paul D. Maley
United Space Alliance
DO5/Cargo Operations
NASA Johnson Space Center
Houston TX 77058 USA

phone: 281-244-0208
latitude 29.5378 north; longitude 95.0868 west; altitude 6 m