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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Cosmos 2251 Comes to Earth

or at least a fragment of the shattered satellite, the tracked fragment 1993-036PX. It will come down sometime on March 12 (universal time). The story is at Spaceweather.

But where will it come down? and at what time? I can't find any predictions for that. Now, the cosmos debris passes over Australia, and it is possible that re-entry could occur over us. But where to look?

You can get the TLE data for the tracked Cosmos fragments here (check it regularly as the orbits will evolve rapidly). You can load the TLE data into many planetarium programs which will display the satellite tracks. Of course, the way it is labelled is such that you will have 352 entries labelled cosmos 2251 DEB. So here is the TLE data for just 036PX itself.
1 34349U 93036PX 09069.10360870 .03647360 15846-5 28802-2 0 130
2 34349 73.9581 317.4828 0145866 202.3990 157.2576 15.95730011 3318

I've edited the TLE file so I can actually find it in SkyMap. The diagram above (click to enlarge) shows the most promising tracks of 1993-036PX on the 12 and 13 of March as seen from Adelaide (the others occur around 8 am, and will not be visible). You will really need to make specific maps for your own region, but it looks like a good time t look for a re-entry is low to the west between 10:00 pm to midnight on the 12th to 13th. Nothing is guaranteed, it might comedown somewhere else, but its worth having a look.

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I wonder, will this be visible from South Africa?
Again, there is a small possibility. There is a track at around 9:30 pm on both the 12th and the 13th, starting south and moving low to the east. Have a look then. Don't be surprised if you see nothing.
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