Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Phobos/Grunt Watch Begins

Phobos/Grunt the failed Russian Mars Probe will reenter Earth's atmosphere sometime in the next seven days. Space Debris Experts won't have a good bead on the when and where until the last twelve hours of it's orbital life. News will be maddeningly slow to trickle in for the next six days or so...and Russia's holdover secrecy makes following Phobos/Grunt news even more cryptic.

When the orbital decay signals the satellite watchers that the end is but a few orbits away, events will speed up, and then news will seem even slower.

The latest predictions now say Phobos/Grunt will reenter January 15th at 1400 UTC +/- 18 hours.

Here's the online resources I deploy during reentry events. These served me well during both UARS and ROSAT reentries.

Twitter has evolved from a chronicle of Celebrity Banality, to the best Breaking News Service out there...provided you follow the accounts of parties close to the story, and waive off the Kutchers, Kardashians and Moores.

During the August 2011 Virginia Earthquake, the tweets about the temblor arrived in Washington DC before the ground wave that cracked the Washington Monument! The Epicenter was roughly 80 miles from DC!

My Phobos/Grunt Twitter Must Follow List:
@PhG_Reentry are the same people who brought us @UARS_Reentry and @ROSAT_Reentry Flat out, the MVP of Reentry Tweeters, and essential when reentry time nears.
@RussianSpaceWeb Russian Spaceflight News from Russia (in English)
@SPACEFLIGHT101 is the most prolific "Background Story" Twitter account to follow.
@universetoday is the comprehensive spaceflight, astronomy, and space history Twitter feed.
@SpaceflightNow nuts and bolts of all things spaceflight

Twitter will keep you up to date on Phobos/Grunt Reentry events, and many links to valuable resources appear in tweets.
Searching #PhobosGrunt will give you all tweets with the #PhobosGrunt hashtag, and it should be fast and furious as the end nears.

Real Time Tracking Websites:
Real Time Satellite Tracking shows Phobos/Grunt's location on Google Maps. The closer to reentry, the more compelling this gets, especially as tweets about live observations follow the satellite's orbital progress!

Heavens-Above will give you observation times to see Phobos/Grunt (or any other satellite you choose) pass over your location. It only takes a minute to configure your location and bookmark this site, and you'll get countless hours of skywatching fun in return.

Heavens-Above not only covers satellite passes, but Sun, Moon, and planet data, meteor showers and comets are displayed for your location. I have bookmarked three locations...Home, Work, and the Ancestral Digs. I've got the heavens covered!

Spaceflight 101 has a good reentry page.

The Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies maintains a Reentry News Page.

I just found with all the numbers...let's give it a look...

We'll look at the Phobos/Grunt story from the beginning, and link the latest Reentry News...

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. I have actually witnessed an entry of a fireball from Lundy Lake back in 2006.

    Don't blink is all I gotta say.