# Will SMAP produce predictable satellite flares visible to the naked eye from the surface of the Earth?

The SMAP (Soil Moisture Active/Passive) satellite just deployed its 6 meters (19.7-foot) mesh reflector antenna today. The satellite orbits the Earth in Sun-synchronous retrograde near-polar, near circular orbit with inclination of 98.116°, altitude of about 660 km (410 mi), orbital period of ~ 98 minutes and is essentially riding the Solar terminator:

Ground track and orbit of SMAP. Source: Satflare

It will repeat its ground track every two-to-three-days and you can see the table of its visible passes e.g. here. This means that it could be visible from nearly any location on Earth around dawn and dusk. Its relatively large (for a LEO satellite) reflector antenna is constructed out of gold-plated molybdenum wire mesh, and rotates on a long boom at constantly changing beta angle relative to the Sun and the ground:

Artists rendition of SMAP in orbit. Image: NASA/JPL

And here's a video simulation of SMAP at work:

The mesh antenna is see-through, but given proper conditions, I imagine it should still reflect sufficient light - perhaps also with its structure and spacecraft's truss - to be visible to a naked eye:

Unfurled SMAP mesh reflector antenna. Image: NASA/Northrop Grumman

So now that we know a bit about SMAP's configuration, orbital regime and that its reflector antenna successfully unfurled, back to my question:

Will SMAP produce periodic satellite flares? Has this chance of flaring been simulated before deployment, perhaps out of curiosity of someone working on the mission?

Additionally, is ground visibility of non-classified artificial satellites ever established before deployment, perhaps already in the mission design phase? Is it ever a requirement and if, for what (non-stealth) reasons?