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IRIDIUM 33
POST COLLISION MODELS


Post-Collision Rotating IRIDIUM 33 Model and Flash Predictions - 13 June 2009

Despite the collision, which took place on the 10th of February 2009, the Iridium 33 was not completely destroyed and bright flashes can be still observed from its intact Main Mission Antennas. So far, only one surface has been observed flashing (March 2009), but according to my main model, there could be a second intact MMA that should be visible these days and that was hidden during passes in March. If the model was correct, this might suggest that the Cosmos satellite may have collided mainly with the front antenna of the Iridium satellite, keeping the Right and the Left MMAs intact.

Preliminary observations have showed that flashes are generated again these days, however, more data are necessary to confirm that flashes are really generated by another reflective surface and not again from the one observed in March.

Image The following picture shows where four flashes have been observed  (on 6/8/10/13 June from latitude 45.5N). Click on the image to enlarge it.


Post-Collision Rotating IRIDIUM 33 Model and Flash Predictions - 28 June 2009

On the 17th of June, 18 consecutive bright flashes (negative magnitude) have been observed for about 1 minute and a half (read the report). By using the collected data, the satellite's rotation axis has been estimated again. The following 3D picture represents the satellite during the observed pass with its rotation axis and the rotating mirror normal (click on the picture to enlarge it).

Image

The rotation axis was pointing toward the LEO constellation, approximately at the celestial coordinates: DEC= 16, RA= 164
.

Image Another view of the flash track during the observed pass.
Image 3D picture the shows the satellite rotation axis and the ground track of the flashes.
Image Sky map that shows the satellite track on the local sky during the observed pass.

Current State - 28 June 2009

The following pictures show the flash gound track, for two satellite positions, that should be currently generated. However, flashes have been already observed and reported only from the right part of this track (here a report).

Image Image

Flashes are easily visible naked eye, since they could be even brighter than the magnitude -4.



By Simone Corbellini