Wednesday, 21 November 2012

PAN, other Geostationary satellites, and another UNID (this time Greg's)

As reported earlier I had a prolific observing session on Geostationary satellites in the evening of November 18th, discovering amongst others an unidentified geostationary object now temporarily designated Unknown 121118 (see here and follow-up here with imagery by Greg from S-Africa: an more on it near the end of the current post).

Below is some more imagery showing various classified and unclassified objects. All images were made using a Canon EOS 60D with a SamYang 1.4/85mm lens at ISO 1000.

Unknown 20121117 (Greg's UNID)

The November 18th imagery includes imagery of a second unidentified object, Unknown 121117 discovered by Greg Roberts (CoSaTrak) from South Africa a day earlier on the 17th (a third initially reported  'unid 'by Greg turned out to be identifiable as a known object, a Chinese CZ-3C r/b). So Greg recovered my Nov 18th UNID on the 19th, and I recovered Greg's Nov 17 UNID on the 18th: nice teamwork!

The image below shows it together with a number of nearby commercial geosats (the veil-like lighter streaks in the image are cirrus clouds, who had begone to invade an initially clear sky):

click image to enlarge

Below is one of Greg's images of the object from 17 November taken from S-Africa: in my image above taken a day later the object has drifted quite a distance more to the West.

(image courtesy Greg Roberts, CoSatTrak S-Africa)

Unknown 121117 is a truely uncatalogued object. There is nevertheless some idea about the identity of this satellite, but I am currently not allowed to provide more information.


PAN (09-047A) and the nearby commercial geosat Paksat 1R visible in Greg's Nov 17th image are visible on my Nov 18th imagery as well. The image below basically fits to the upper image above (see the Eutelsat pair visible in both images), giving you a sense how Greg's Unknown 2012117 has moved in a day time:

click image to enlarge

I have written about PAN on this blog several times before: it is an enigmatic classified satellite that frequently relocates.

Mentor 4, Thuraya 2 and the Mentor 1r

Among the other objects imaged were the SIGINT Mentor 4 (and the nearby commercial satellite Thuraya 2), and a r/b from the Mentor 1 launch, Mentor 1r.

Mentors (the biggest geostationary satellites in existence and the biggest man-made objects in space with exception of the ISS) are relatively bright objects (typically mag. +8):

click image to enlarge

I already posted imagery of another Mentor, Mentor 5, as well as the SIGINT Vortex 6 in an earlier post.

More on my UNID, Unknown 121118

This object in an 8.5 degree inclined geosynchronous orbit (see here and here for earlier coverage) remains 'unidentified' (i.e., is not present in public orbital catalogues such as USSTRATCOM's): we are however starting to believe it could be a classified object that has recently been moved to this location from somewhere else. It is currently positioned over 48.3 E and appears stable in longitude:

click map to enlarge

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