UPDATE #6: Asteroid to Hit – 25 September 2016
From: [Name Withheld]
Date: 24 September 2016
To: William Costellia
Subject: Regarding Questions on Tracking of Object
Regarding questions on how a rocket launch and mission could have been disguised from the public, in an alternate mission or stealth mission:
Those familiar with the NRO & “Zirconic” project, would know that it reveals an important insight into the sophistication of these stealth type of abilities.
These still-active stealth programs date back to 1963. The highly classified/secret programs have engaged in hiding a space mission & decoy satellites & other methods started around 1960 in cooperation with the CIA and the US Air Force.
Under the Reagan administration, a special US project called “Zirconic”, was extremely secret. The specific technology was identified by the code name ‘Nebula’.
In fact, only personnel with an extremely secret “Zirconic clearance” were allowed to know just the existence of the stealth satellite program.
An example: In 1999, amateur satellite trackers, following a stealthy satellite launch in 1999, atop a Titan 4 rocket, followed what they thought was the original satellite.
However, after a while they became suspicious that they were following a decoy and that the real “craft of interest” was in a different orbit.
(One method of creating a “decoy” is from inflation of an object made to return the same optical, laser, infrared, radar, and dimensional signatures & characteristics of the original spacecraft or satellite.
A separate small rocket may also give the signature of the original mission flight trajectory.)
Here is an NBC article, that touches the surface in FOIA discovered early classified programs on how missions and spacecraft were being developed using technology to deceive the public (or amateur satellite trackers & including hostile foreign nations).
Regarding any questions on the pixel array “Charge Coupled Device” (CCD) usage in high resolution “night sky usage” telescope imaging. Most high end telescope cameras, that may be used to track the very faint optical (visual & near infrared) emissions of an asteroid, would be fully saturated well before sunrise (from atmospheric refractive photon diffusion from over the horizon sunlight). This saturation is due to the exposure and other settings on the CCD array normally used for sensitive night star imaging. (saturation occurs from an over reception of photons in an electron charge in the epitaxial layer of silicon (photoactive region).)
A daylight charge transfer rate of the pixels (including external filters) of a CCD camera would be able to detect a bright object just similar to the optical reception of the human eye. In the “illumination sighting” case, this brilliant illumination occurred as the sun was rising, at the threshold of the horizon, and was momentary. “All Sky” night setting telescopes would have been saturated at that time. In fact, a number of online “all sky” telescopes transition to a state “waiting for night time” well before sunrise.
An additional detection challenge was revealed – that at the time of the momentary illumination, the object was found to be close to the sun at sunrise. Thus it was fortunate that the sighting occurred with a southern angle just enough to reveal the momentarily illumination. Yes, a CCD security camera would have been able to catch the short brilliant illumination IF the camera was elevated above the horizon, and was sighting to ~20 degrees of the south of the sun at the latitude near 45N (to block the northern circumference of the rising sun).
Regarding astronomical coordinates: Simple trigonometry provides a solution to a conversion of astronomical coordinates using the provided latitudinal sighting reference position, the angle of intersect to the object, the LD revealed in the prior updates, and an elevation of 10 degrees above the horizon at 6:55:24 PDT. If a person has been following the updates, the last unknown parameter in the incoming of the “object” necessitated a “sighting”. Thus once a highly accurate and detailed sighting was reported, then the last parameter was identified. In addition, again, if a person has been following the updates, they would recognize that there has been multiple noted angular changes in the trajectory – simultaneous to noted slowing (velocity change).
However, to provide precision level astronomical coordinates, in a series of sightings to determine a trajectory and/or new changes, would require an ability to observe this object from the “sun light” side of the hemisphere (using any terrestrial based telescope*). Thus, the only parameters that could be determined and provided were those from a “flash type of sighting” merged with the data at the time of the sighting. It was very providential that a high quality sighting occurred and that the person was able to contact and provide this information.
It is recognized that the Amateur Astronomical community are very skilled, dedicated, and have quality state-of-the-art equipment, including sophisticated computational capabilities.
The more information that is shared, the better the public may be informed.
Note: * Space based telescopes, would be capable of observing the “object”.