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TS News - What Killed Telstar 401?




TELE-satellit News, 22 January 1997

What Killed Telstar 401?
  NEW YORK, USA, 97/01/21 (SatND) -- The cause of the Telstar 401 disaster
may have been found by scientists. Working together in the International
Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) Program, they managed to track a so-called
"magnetic cloud event" that originated from the sun's surface on January 6.

  Its effects were carefully monitored by various satellite and ground
based detectors until it arrived on the earth on January 10. "Preliminary
evidence [...] suggests increased levels in the radiation environment, and
possibly a connection to the malfunction of an AT&T satellite," the ISTP
says on a Web page dedicated to the 'event.' Most charts available there
show significant levels of activity in the earth's magnetosphere around the
same time Telstar 401 went silent (January 11, 11:15 UTC.)

  The most likely explanation for the death of Telstar 401 seems to be that
magnetic cloud has caused a massive short in the satellite's circuitry.
This is in compliance with NASA observations that the bird was still in
place at 97E but slowly spinning.

  Given the reported spin rate of 5 revolutions per hours, it should have
been possible to re-establish contact by now if a temporary malfunction (or
safety shutdown) had occurred. But electrically speaking, the TELSTAR 401
bird sure is as dead as a rubber duck.

  More information: http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/istp/cloud_jan97/event.html 

  By: Peter Klanowski
  Source: Sat-ND
(c)TELE-satellit 1996. All rights reserved.


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