Questions tagged [tracking]

Questions regarding systems used to continually locate objects, often radar.

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1answer
90 views

Why aren't there any trajectories for the Viking missions in JPL Horizons' database?

Horizons has calculated trajectories for deep space spacecraft, including six objects related to Apollo 8 through 12. See an (old) list in the currently unanswered question What was Chang'e-2'...
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Does Jonathan McDowell access U.S. military tracking network data? If so, how? Is a security clearance involved? (Can I too?)

NPR's news item and audio podcast New Chinese Space Plane Landed At Mysterious Air Base, Evidence Suggests draws heavily from information and quotes from noted astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian ...
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Has Same Beam Interference (SBI) been used or at least tested at Mars? Are there plans to use it in the next few years?

Section 5.4 of Descanso I, Radiometric Tracking Techniques for Deep-Space Navigation by Catherine L. Thornton and James S. Border titled Future directions in Radiometric Tracking; Same Beam ...
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Why does OGO-1's trajectory and imminent reentry come from sky surveys and NEO tracking rather than normal satellite tracking?

Space.com's 56-year-old NASA satellite expected to fall to Earth this weekend says: "OGO-1 is predicted to re-enter on one of its next three perigees, the points in the spacecraft's orbit ...
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276 views

Difference between collecting satellite data and tracking its position

When people talk about "tracking" a satellite, do they generally mean receiving data / communication from it, or do they mean determining its position. When an organisation sends a satellite ...
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How is satellite position tracked in practice?

How do the increasing number of LEO satellites keep track of their position? I know they use ground stations, but do they employ private companies to keep track for them? It seems like there are way ...
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1answer
174 views

How to fit, into a cubesat, 29 trackable high drag subsatellites with well-defined aerodynamic profiles

Johnathan McDowell's recent tweet says: The @AerospaceCorp Aerocube-10a cubesat carries 29 small passive high-drag subsatellites used to probe the density of the upper atmosphere. 3 have been ejected ...
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How exactly does TDRSS provide tracking? (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System)

This excellent answer to How does satellites know it is in apogee or perigee states: The NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) adds to this a constellation of satellites in such a ...
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Will the new “TLE format” be orbitally-mechanically better than traditional TLEs?

Celetrak's A New Way to Obtain GP Data (aka TLEs) by Dr. T.S. Kelso 2020 May 27 explains the arrival a new infoblob format that in several ways is "better" than the ancient TLE, and contains ...
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Where are post-2017 EPIC images of Earth and the DSCOVR spacecraft coordinates available for download?

I tried to download orbital positions for the DSCOVR spacecraft in its Lissajous orbit around Sun-Earth L1 from JPL's Horizons web page but I was surprised to see the following! No ephemeris for ...
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108 views

Why hasn't DSCOVR's trajectory determination been updated in JPL's Horizons after 2015-Aug-4?

I tried to download orbital positions for the DSCOVR spacecraft in its Lissajous orbit around Sun-Earth L1 from JPL's Horizons web page but I was surprised to see the following! No ephemeris for ...
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Do deployments of multiple cubesats obey proposed guidelines such as 20 seconds or more between deployments at 5 m/s or faster?

This answer to What can be done in future mass-cubesat deploys to make them “less irksome” to orbital space debris experts? links to Space Traffic Safety: A New Self-Governance Approach for the ...
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Do SpaceX and other US-based launch companies get “ITAR waivers” for live-broadcasting processed telemetry data?

The 17-Feb-2016 answer to Is the Falcon 9 launch/landing telemetry data available for visualisation purposes? explains that access to telemetry data is controlled by ITAR and/or other regulations, but ...
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When was the first successful photograph of an orbital spacecraft from Earth taken?

Early artificial satellites were tracked by radio and visually by amateurs, scientists and military personnel for various reasons including fun and improving the understanding of orbital dynamics ...
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How could RCA Satcom III have been completely lost? (Or was it?)

This answer to What “missing satellite” was part of the story of CNN's debut? quotes the 1981 UPI Article The RCA Satcom III-R commercial communications satellite, designed to... as follows: The ...
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Did Zuma complete at least one orbit? [duplicate]

Question: Did Zuma complete at least one orbit? CLOSE VOTERS, PLEASE NOTE: answers to What was the outcome of the launch of ZUMA by SpaceX, to the best of the public's knowledge? do not answer my ...
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What was so “Mini” about Minitrack?

In the US Naval Research Laboratory video Vanguard 60th Anniversary: A Look Back Roger L. Easton says: Now, how did Vanguard Start? I think it’s fair to say that Milt Rosen started the Vanguard ...
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How does one use the Surveillance Fence feature in keeptrack.space?

keeptrack.space was mentioned in What would be a “big picture” understanding of how the orbits of Earth satellites are monitored? but I haven't visited the site since. Running across this again today ...
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Why is the NORAD Catalog number of SpaceX's Starlink's “Darksat” both 71130 and 44972?

@BowlOfRed's answer to Which of the recently launched Starlink satellites is the coated one? links to Celestrak's supplemental table for Starlink. https://celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/supplemental/...
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Real Real-Time tracking of satellites

I am looking for true real-time satellite tracking data. I know it can be calculated but that is not true real time tracking - or it does not seem to be when using TLEs. What I am looking for is the ...
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How exactly were the signals from quad dishes of Apollo Deep Space High-Gain Antenna or Russian B-529 processed for local control of tracking?

The images below (and their sources) show the quad dishes of the Apollo Deep Space High-Gain Antenna and the Russian B529 ground station tracking antenna. From NASA Technical Note TN D-6723 Apollo ...
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What will the US government start to label its GPS spacecraft after SVN 99

GPS spacecraft are currently identified by their “Space Vehicle Number” (SVN) which now number 01 through 75. What will happen after 99 GPS satellites are launched? Is there any plan currently in ...
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What (the heck) are “space-fixed coordinates” as described in Apollo mission trajectory analyses?

@Ludo's answer to If I wanted to reconstruct an entire Apollo mission's crewed spacecraft trajectories, what are the key sources of historical data I'd look for? shows the table and its source shown ...
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What do these Apollo era terms mean?

@Ludo's answer to If I wanted to reconstruct an entire Apollo mission's crewed spacecraft trajectories, what are the key sources of historical data I'd look for? links to Apollo Mission 11, ...
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How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

For the USA's Mercury flights, a number of tracking stations were installed around the globe. John Glenn's first orbital flight was tracked with them, plus a number of ships. (Tracking stations used ...
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What caused so many objects in Earth orbit to “go NEA”? (no elements availabe)

T. S. Kelso tweeted the following, is this a case of lost and found? How can so many substantial objects become lost like this? The list of 23 objects "formerly known as Prince NEA" all seem ...
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How will Starlink satellites be capable of tracking on-orbit debris and autonomously avoiding collision?

The press kit for the first Falcon 9 Starlink launch and deployment of the first 60 satllites scheduled for May 15, 2019 says: Starlink satellites are capable of tracking on-orbit debris and ...
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Why does 2018-099 (SpaceX, December 2018) still have a dozen unidentified payloads?

According to today's Raw SATCAT Data from Celestrak, the launch designated 2018-099 (SpaceX, December 2018) still has twelve unidentified payload objects! ...
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SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy Launch 4/11/19

Will it be possible to see the launch from the Dominican Republic as to goes into space? Staying there the next few days/nights. What is the track out of Cape Canaveral?
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What is Space Policy Directive 3 and how does it relate to the Space Fence?

In response to a question about the recent ASAT test by India producing a new debris field in LEO, Patrick Murphy, Director of Strategy, Planning, & Integration for NASA Space Technology Mission ...
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1answer
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What steel ball was thrown out of the ISS to help test how well ground stations can track orbital debris?

The question What kinds of things have been tossed out of the ISS? has a broken YouTube link. This is why it's good to include at least the name of the video in your post (which I didn't back in 2016)....
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What are the space-based optical satellite sensors?

I was looking at a products page for Numerica Corp, and under their product MFAST it said (emphasis mine): Tracks objects in all regimes of space (e.g., LEO, MEO, HEO, GEO) using radar, ground-...
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Which nations own tracking ships for support of rocket launches?

This wikipedia list of tracking ships contains ships of the following nations: China, France, Russia and USA. Are there no other missile range instrumentation ships for support of space operations of ...
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1answer
140 views

How does this fast-slewing dish track moving spacecraft?

Elon Musk's recent tweet shows a video clip of a modest-sized dish on fairly fast-slewing mount located: At SpaceX Boca Chica launch site in Texas In the question Why is the reflector on this ...
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2answers
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Where can I find the TLE of ExseedSat 1, India's first ever private LEO satellite?

On 3rd December 2018, a private Indian company Exseed Space launched it's first ever satellite into space called ExseedSat 1. But I couldn't find the TLE for this satellite. I looked it up on n2yo ...
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What is the Cheapest way to track my balloon (only altitude or gps coordinates)? [closed]

I want to build extreme cheap high altitude stuff - balloon, paper plane :) anything. Its cold outside now, and i dont want to track, and collect the my landed "spacecraft". So, i need a very cheap ...
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Where is the “antenna farm” from which this Soyuz launch photo was taken?

The Phys.org article SpaceX Christmas delivery arrives at space station had a small version of this photo, and I found this large one at wirenews.com's SpaceX Christmas delivery arrives at space ...
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Can the deactivated satellites also be tracked through TLE?

TLE is used to track whether the satellites are in orbit or not. However, is it possible that a particular satellite is deactivated, decommissioned or deorbited yet its TLE is being updated regularly?
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Need help identifying this (likely to be) phased array antenna used to track launches

I need help identifying the (what I believe to be) flat (and possibly phased) array antenna shown next to the tracking telescope in this photo, which can be found both here and here where the ...
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186 views

What is this combination tracking telescope and helical antenna pair? was it really used, and who is/was FlightLine?

I spotted the image below here which I found here (also seen here). Zooming in on this combination pair of telescope trackers and pair of RHCP and LHCP (right- and left-handed circular polarization) ...
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How was “toolbag-sat” imaged in space? (from Scott Manley's video)

In Scott Manley's video Could An Astronaut Throw Something From Orbit To Earth? at about 02:00 he includes a sequence of images that shows the famous tool bag that ...
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Are commercial communications satellites in GEO being constantly monitored by telescopes?

I was trying to look up GOES-17 in Spaceflight101 but got sidetracked in the search result and ended up reading this thread about AMC-9, which links to the YouTube video Rough cut video of AMC-9 ...
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1answer
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What just happened? What does this satellite breakup announcement mean? What does it suggest?

I logged into Space-Track and immediately saw this message: The 18th Space Control Squadron has confirmed the breakup of SL-12 R/B(AUX MOTOR), #36407. The time of breakup was at approximately 0206z,...
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Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites?

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites, or is tracking always done from ground stations? Ground stations can only see a small part of the sky, so a network of stations would be needed. A ...
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1answer
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Are there publicly-available non-amateur sources of TLEs other than Space-Track?

As an amateur satellite tracker, and sometime reentry analyst, I am always anxious to get the newest tracking data for low-orbiting spacecraft. I have had to rely exclusively on Space-Track for the ...
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2answers
4k views

Which LEO satellite lost over 30 km of altitude in the geomagnetic storm of 13-14 March 1989?

This answer includes the following information: During the great geomagnetic storm of 13-14 March 1989, tracking of thousands of space objects was lost and it took North American Defense Command (...
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Has NORAD ever experienced a catastrophic event and “lost track of” a bunch of objects?

NORAD tracks satellites for several very important reasons. From time to time an object might become temporarily mis-identified or otherwise confused with another object, these things usually get ...
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545 views

How does the SpaceBEEs' experimental passive radar reflector work?

My Question: What is the nature of the "experimental passive radar reflector developed by the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command"? How does it work, and why does it work for ...
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1answer
389 views

Are SpaceBEEs actually hard to track?

The IEEE News article FCC Accuses Stealthy Startup of Launching Rogue Satellites focuses mostly on the intrigue addressed in the question What checks are supposed to be carried out to prevent illegal ...
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635 views

Sun-synchronous satellite orbit propagation

I'm trying to propagate the orbit of a sun-synchronous satellite. The initial data is defined by the TLE. The orbit of the satellite is controlled by the operator ...