Monday, 27 June 2016

Mentor 7 (NROL-37) stopped drifting at 102.6 E

Mentor 7 on 25 June 2016 
image (c) Paul Camilleri, used with permission
click to enlarge

On June 11, 2016, the National Reconnaisance Office (NRO) launched NROL-37: a new Mentor (Advanced ORION) SIGINT satellite, Mentor 7 (2016-036A). Paul Camilleri in Warners Bay, Australia, located it in orbit three days later, on June 14 (see a previous post).

At that time, it was in a semi-geosynchonous, 7.5 degree inclined drift orbit, and drifting westwards in longitude at a rate of ~0.28 degrees/day (see a previous post), after initial orbit insertion near longitude~105 E.

New observations by Paul Camilleri on June 24 and 25 show that this drift has stopped. The satellite is now geosynchronous in a stable, 7.5 degree inclined position at longitude 102.6 E. It arrived there on June 19th, after a 7-day drift.

click map to enlarge

This is almost certainly a temporary check-out position. In this location the satellite is positioned at 45 degrees elevation (i.e. halfway between zenith and horizon) for the Pine Gap Joint Defense Facility in central Australia, one of the primary ground stations for US SIGINT satellites:

Mentor 7: position as seen from Pine Gap
click to enlarge

It will probably remain here for a few weeks or a few months, and then be moved to an operational location, which I suspect will be near longitude 80 E.

Current elements:

Mentor 7
1 41584U 16036A   16177.93784503 0.00000000  00000-0  00000+0 0    01
2 41584   7.5070 353.7330 0045273  39.1128 322.1888  1.00270000    04

2 comments:

David Stuart said...

Hi there, quick question...At 0234, 0244 and 0250 on June 27, 2016. I observed 3 separate satellites travelling approximately South, Southeast to North, Northwest over Burnaby, BC, Canada. Not only did each one flash between 5-8 times from approx -4 to -6 in brightness, but appeared to flash in response to me directing a military grade laser at them. The only satellites I've heard of that flash are Iridium satellites. Do they flash multiple times? I always thought it was a needle in a haystack scenario with them. I've never heard of them flashing multiple times and seemingly flashing in response to being flashed at...any thoughts? Thanks for your reply! :-)

David Stuart said...

Hi there, quick question...At 0234, 0244 and 0250 on June 27, 2016. I observed 3 separate satellites travelling approximately South, Southeast to North, Northwest over Burnaby, BC, Canada. Not only did each one flash between 5-8 times from approx -4 to -6 in brightness, but appeared to flash in response to me directing a military grade laser at them. The only satellites I've heard of that flash are Iridium satellites. Do they flash multiple times? I always thought it was a needle in a haystack scenario with them. I've never heard of them flashing multiple times and seemingly flashing in response to being flashed at...any thoughts? Thanks for your reply! :-)