posted on Jul, 18 2011 @ 08:43 AM
Originally posted by Chadwickus
Without going off topic too much, how did you go with capturing the Nanosail-D from a few months ago?
I caught "an" image of it, but it's low magnification and not that great. That thing's the hardest satellite I've ever tracked; my tracking software
doesn't account for either the solar radiation pressure nor the atmospheric drag, so unless the orbital elements are less than about 12 hours old, the
tracking is way, way off (for any other satellite I can get away with that). There's no other satellite like it up there right now.
Unfortunately, it was launched alongside a classified payload, so NORAD doesn't provide the elements. The university behind the project does, but the
frequency of their updates and the age of the updated elements themselves by the time they release them leaves a lot to be desired. I've only been
able to get fresh elements just before a pass just once, and I barely caught the satellite for a few seconds as I fought with the tracking. The
thought has occured to me to artifically "update" the elements myself by pre-calculating the amount of expected drag and solar radiation pressure, but
the calculations require knowledge of a few variables whose values are unknown to me. I would need to know the albedo and the attitude of the sail
during the entire period from the epoch of the elements to the moment tracking starts. I can take an educated guess at the former but the latter is
not well known.
edit on 18-7-2011 by ngchunter because: (no reason given)