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

This appears to be an error that has propagated from paper to paper over the years. Examining the original paper cited by all these other authors, "Effects of the March 1989 Solar Activity" by Allen ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
36 votes
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Is it possible to track an object as small as the Tesla Roadster around the Solar System

An object as small as the Tesla Roadster will not be trackable all the way out beyond the orbit of Mars. The Tesla is too small, or space is too big, or both. The fact that the booster is still ...
gerrit's user avatar
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33 votes
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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?

The Answer is on a page by Sven Grahn. No ocean going tracking ships were used. Only ground stations on the territory of the USSR. In the other answers some russian sources about the use of tracking ...
Uwe's user avatar
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30 votes

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

update: There has been a new analysis of "catastrophic" altitude drops during solar events. The largest drop cited is about 440 meters. NASA Goddard feature: Solar Superstorms of the Past ...
uhoh's user avatar
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28 votes

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites?

Tracking satellites and debris requires very powerful radar stations connected to extremely powerful computers on the ground, which can be augmented by some optical satellite technology. Trying to ...
GdD's user avatar
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23 votes
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Which type of map projection is most commonly used in control rooms?

Equirectangular. Note that in all of the images that uhoh linked (a b c), the grid squares on the map are the same size and shape at all points on the map. Here's an example from this question, ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
23 votes
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What happened to Voyager 2's tracking loop capacitor? How did it get damaged? What is it for? What's a tracking loop anyway?

On April 6, 1978, a fault-protection algorithm onboard Voyager 2 automatically switched from the prime to backup receiver. However, the backup receiver's tracking-loop capacitor3 was found to have ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
22 votes
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Would a Voyager spacecraft trajectory change be recognized?

Would the engineer team here on Earth detect it? How? There are two issues here. Suppose Voyager 2 (Voyager 1 is moving faster and is further away, so the effect will be lesser on Voyager 1 than on ...
David Hammen's user avatar
21 votes
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Tracking of spacecrafts of the Mercury project

NASA report SP-6, chapter 2 describes the tracking network in detail. It provides this overview schematic explaining how the various stations communicated with each other: (source: NASA SP-6, chapter ...
Ludo's user avatar
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20 votes
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Suppose Zuma wasn't "lost" — what would it take to detect it?

First of all, what do we know about it's orbit? From the direction that the rocket took off, we know it's inclination was about 50 degrees. That could be adjusted higher in flight at a time that is ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
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20 votes
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Data on satellites and/or space junk

tl;dr: It looks like Hu et al (2022) (linked below) has done just that using catalogs of TLEs and the Python package Skyfield. Others have done similar but less thorough calculations - I think this ...
uhoh's user avatar
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18 votes

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites?

There are at least a few space based sensors, although I'm having some real difficulty getting more details about them. This article mentions them in particular. It seems these sensors are known as ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
18 votes
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Are commercial communications satellites in GEO being constantly monitored by telescopes?

It seems that the company ExoAnalytic Solutions regularly observes high- orbiting satellites (MEO, HEO, and GEO), using the data to provide tracking, ensure they are at the right spot, and provide ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
17 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

Ships were used to receive telemetry. Work in the ocean took place on February 12, 1961. At this time, preparations for the launch of the world's first manned spacecraft Vostok were completed. ...
A. Rumlin's user avatar
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16 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

I've found that language barrier problem exists. There are many info in Russian that have no proper translations in English. There were space tracking ships too. Information that USSR had not them ...
Heopps's user avatar
  • 9,061
15 votes

How did the USSR track Gagarin's Vostok-1 orbital flight? Was tracking capability an issue in the choice of orbit?

According to this source (in Russian; includes communication log and post-flight debriefing) the only ground stations that are listed as those that were communicating with Gagarin were located in USSR....
Sergiy Lenzion's user avatar
14 votes
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What is software called which matches a picture to a star catalog?

You're looking for a "plate solver". Astrometry.net is probably the best, but others like ASTAP and Match exist. There are many open-source desktop plate solvers too, most of which use ...
markasoftware's user avatar
13 votes
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Is there a way (working or in development) to track satellites in lunar orbit like we track objects in Earth Orbit?

From Why was the 100m Green Bank dish needed together with DSN's 70m Goldstone dish to detect Chandrayaan-1 in lunar orbit? above: "This computer-generated image depicts the Chandrayaan-1's ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
12 votes

Is it possible to track an object as small as the Tesla Roadster around the Solar System

tl;dr: When the Roadster is about 1 AU away from both the Earth and the Sun, it will have an apparent magnitude $m$ equal to its absolute magnitude $M$ or +28. According to Wikipedia Hubble's limiting ...
uhoh's user avatar
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12 votes
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Has NORAD ever experienced a catastrophic event and "lost track of" a bunch of objects?

Yes, during the geomagnetic storm of March 1989, NORAD lost track of thousands of objects: During the great geomagnetic storm of 13-14 March 1989, tracking of thousands of space objects was lost ...
called2voyage's user avatar
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10 votes
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How does the SpaceBEEs' experimental passive radar reflector work?

The original 4 satellites were 0.25U cubesats (as shown in the picture in the question) while the newer ones are 1U (cubical). The larger size of the newer sats provides space for Van Atta reflectors ...
Alex Hajnal's user avatar
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10 votes
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Units of "pixels" in a research paper on digital streak formation for optical payloads

$$L_{st} =\frac{f \ v_{t, a} \ \tau}{\cos(\theta_{obj}) \ d \ p}$$ where tau is the exposure time, $f$ is the focal length, $v_{t,a}$ is the averaged value of the object's tangential velocity in the ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
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Is it possible for the Deep Space Network to use MSPA and antenna arraying simultaneously?

If you have three apertures pointed at Mars, then you would array all three for both orbiters. There would be no point in throwing away the signal of one of the orbiters on any of the antennas. You ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
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9 votes
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Is this the longest that a spacecraft "went to sleep" and then woke up on schedule?

First of all, yes, Rosetta was indeed without any contact for 31 months. That is longer than New Horizons, which wasn't in hibernation for more than 202 days1. These are the only two spacecraft that I ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
9 votes

Is it possible to track an object as small as the Tesla Roadster around the Solar System

The Roadster itself? No. Asteroid surveys aren't really set up to track things that small. However, the Roadster is still attached to the upper stage of the Falcon Heavy. The full assembly is ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 15.3k
9 votes
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Why hasn't DSCOVR's trajectory determination been updated in JPL's Horizons after 2015-Aug-4?

No new DSCOVR spacecraft trajectory data has been made available by this non-NASA (NOAA) mission since May 2017. (Flight projects are not required to provide trajectory data to Horizons and, in this ...
Jon Giorgini's user avatar
9 votes

Will the new "TLE format" be orbitally-mechanically better than traditional TLEs?

Skimming CCSDS RECOMMENDED STANDARD FOR ORBIT DATA MESSAGES, it looks to me like three different message types are defined: Orbit Parameter Message (OPM), Orbit Mean Elements Message (OMM), and Orbit ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
9 votes
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How is satellite position tracked in practice?

Initially, when a new satellite is launched in space orbital dynamics models using launch and deployment parameters to provide an estimation of the orbit of the target satellite. As @pearsonartphoto ...
elkos's user avatar
  • 336
8 votes

Is there a satellite that tracks other satellites?

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) (unsurprisingly given its name) provides tracking. But, perhaps in a different sense that the other answers are discussing. TDRSS provides co-...
Organic Marble's user avatar

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