FW: [IOTAoccultations] Obs. sought of engine burns of Phobos-bound spacecraft Nov. 8/9, S. Amer., Carib., Bermuda

From: Derek C Breit (breit_ideas@poyntsource.com)
Date: Thu Oct 13 2011 - 15:08:15 UTC

  • Next message: Derek C Breit: "FW: [IOTAoccultations] Phobos-Soil ephemeris extended on JPL Horizons site"

    ________________________________________
    
    Subject: [IOTAoccultations] Obs. sought of engine burns of Phobos-bound
    spacecraft Nov. 8/9, S. Amer., Carib., Bermuda
    
     
    The Russian Space Research Institute has requested optical (video or CCD)
    observations of two critical engine burns that will be performed by their 
    Phobos-Soil mission that plans to return soil samples from Phobos. The
    first engine burn will occur on Nov. 8 from 22:55.8 to 23:05.3 UT and
    will be visible only from the southeastern part of Brazil, fortunately
    the most populous part of the country with many observatories. The 
    spacecraft will be at an altitude of about 240 km at the start of the
    burn, and will be 280 km high at the end. The second burn, on the next
    orbit at higher altitude, will be visible over a larger area, including
    the Amazon region and all of northwestern South America, including
    northernmost Chile (the max. altitude will be 8 deg. at Cerro Paranal),
    as well as Panama (max. alt. 1 deg. at San Jose, Costa Rica), much of
    the Caribbean Sea area (max. alt. 28 deg. at San Juan, PR but only 4 deg.
    at Miami, FL) and Bermuda (max. alt. 16 deg.). The second burn starts
    on Nov. 9 at 1:02.8 UT (alt. 580 km) and ends at 1:20.2 UT (alt. 1060 km). 
    A map showing the ground track of the spacecraft, with the engine burn 
    segments highlighted, is in a Power Point (.ppt) file provided by the 
    Space Research Institute and posted by Derek Breit at 
    http://www.poyntsource.com/New/Dunham.htm . Predictions
    of the path in the sky for your observing site can be computed from the
    JPL Horizons Web site at http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi - for the
    object, click on [change] next to "Target Body", then select the
    "spacecraft" tab under "choose from a list of:", and then select
    "Phobos-Soil" (object -555). Under Table settings, select "astrometric
    RA & DEC)" and "apparent AZ & EL"; other quantities are optional. Pay
    attention to the EL column, since negative values mean it's below your
    horizon. For the time interval, use 5 or 10 seconds since its motion 
    will be rapid. Currently, the ephemeris on the Horizons Web site ends
    very soon after Nov. 9 at 01:20 UT (near or at the end of the 2nd
    engine burn), so you must specify an end time of Nov. 9 at 01:20 UT or
    earlier; otherwise, the calculation will fail and you will obtain no
    tabular output. The spacecraft will probably be rather faint by itself 
    (but maybe 5th or 4th mag. during its low orbit) but the engine burns 
    will probably be visible naked eye, at least with binoculars. We have
    requested a longer predicted ephemeris since the spacecraft should be
    visible by reflected sunlight when it's not in shadow with telescopes
    for one or two days after the launch, and for another day or two with
    large telescopes.
    
    If weather or other problems develop at the Bainonur launch site, there 
    are backup launch opportunities the next two days.
    
    David
    ____________
    
    Header information about Phobos-Soil from the JPL Horizons Web site gives
    more information:
    
    Revised: Oct 10, 2011 Phobos-Soil Spacecraft -555
    http://www.russianspaceweb.com/phobos_grunt.html
    
    BACKGROUND:
    This trajectory is a planning version that assumes Phobos-Soil launch will 
    occur 2011-Nov-8 23:25 UTC from Baikonur. Backup dates are Nov 9 & 10.
    If there is a delay, it is hoped we will be able to update things here.
    
    Engine burns:
    1st: 2011-Nov-08 22:55:47.981 UTC - 23:05:18.253 UTC
    2nd: 2011-Nov-09 01:02:48.870 UTC - 01:20:09.975 UTC
    
    These burns are not visible to Russian ground stations, and while the
    spacecraft will record telemetry for later playback, near "real-time"
    imaging and astrometry, especially during the burns, is sought.
    
    Shadow entrance & exit times:
    #1 enter: 2011-Nov-08 20:36:00.000 UTC
    exit : 2011-Nov-08 20:40:18.289 UTC
    
    #2 enter: 2011-Nov-08 21:34:27.083 UTC
    exit : 2011-Nov-08 22:10:20.337 UTC
    
    #3 enter: 2011-Nov-08 23:04:29.651 UTC
    exit : 2011-Nov-08 23:36:02.611 UTC
    
    #4 enter: 2011-Nov-09 01:16:43.566 UTC
    exit : 2011-Nov-09 01:20:09.899 UTC
    
    OVERVIEW:
    Phobos-Soil is an unmanned mission of the Russian Federal Space Agency that 
    will land on the Martian moon and return a soil sample to Earth. Also known
    as "Phobos-Grunt" or "Fobos-Grunt" ("grunt" being the Russian word meaning 
    soil or dirt), or "PhSRM" for Phobos Sample Return Mission.
    
    It will also study Mars from orbit, including its atmosphere and dust
    storms,
    plasma and radiation environment. It is currently scheduled to be launched 
    November 2011 on a Zenit launch vehicle with a Fregat upper stage. The
    return 
    vehicle is scheduled to arrive back on Earth in August 2014.
    
    Mission control will be the Russian Center for Deep Space Communications
    
    OBJECTIVES:
    * Collect soil samples from Phobos and return them to Earth for scientific 
    research on Phobos, Mars, and Martian space.
    * In situ and remote studies of Phobos (to include analysis of soil samples)
    * Monitoring the atmospheric behavior of Mars, including the dynamics of 
    dust storms
    * Studies of the vicinity of Mars, to include its radiation environment, 
    plasma and dust
    * Study of the origin of the Martian satellites and their relation to Mars
    * Study of the role played by asteroid impacts in the formation of 
    terrestrial planets
    * Search for possible past or present life (biosignatures)
    * Sending select extremophile microorganisms on a three-year interplanetary 
    round-trip in a small sealed capsule (LIFE experiment).
    
    SPACECRAFT:
    11,100 kg (w/fuel)
    
    Other Payloads:
    #1) Yinghuo-1
    The first Chinese Mars probe, Yinghuo-1, will be launched with Phobos-Soil.
    In late 2012, after a 10-11.5 months cruise, Yinghuo-1 separates and enters 
    a 800 x 80,000 km three day equatorial orbit (5 deg inclination). Yinghuo-1 
    is expected to remain in Martian orbit for one year. Yinghuo-1 will focus 
    mainly on the study of the external environment of Mars.
    #2) MetNet 
    Two landers developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, are included 
    with the Phobos-Soil launch.
    #3) LIFE
    A payload from the Planetary Society called the Living Interplanetary 
    Flight Experiment, or LIFE, will send 10 types of microorganisms and a 
    natural soil colony of microbes on the three-year round trip to assess
    their ability to survive the space environment.
    
    INSTRUMENTS:
    * TV system for navigation and guidance
    * Gamma ray spectrometer
    * Neutron spectrometer
    * Alpha X spectrometer
    * Mass spectrometer
    * Seismometer
    * Long-wave radar
    * Visual and near-infrared spectrometer
    * Dust counter
    * Ion spectrometer
    * Optical solar sensor
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