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Satellites that are mistaken for UFOs

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 6 may. 2019 8:18 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 6 oct. 2020 7:54 ]
Often times, people all over the planet see luminous objects moving at high altitude and speed during the night or day, which turn out to be Iridium communications satellites gliding in polar orbits.
Throughout the history of CEFAA, we have received numerous cases of “luminous objects” or simply what people call “UFOs” and which in the end turn out to be satellites from the IRIDIUM constellation. 

These satellites, a total of around 66, were designed by Motorola engineers to provide Mobile Satellite Services and cover the entire planet in voice and data communications.

Among its achievements, the American factory Motorola provided the communications equipment for the “Voyager 1” probe that transmitted in 1977 the first photographs of Saturn taken by a spacecraft, that back then was traveling towards the planet with the rings.

Iridiums owe their name to the element Iridium, whose atomic number is 77. Originally, Motorola planned to launch a constellation of 77 Iridium satellites.

They began to put them in orbit in the late 1980s to place them in 6 polar orbits, with 11 satellites in each of them, at a height of 780 kilometers. 

These satellites have three highly polished antennas that reflect very well the sunlight towards the Earth, creating a kind of luminous body that moves quickly and that turn out to be quite a spectacle during starry nights.

Its movement is of great speed and the light that its antennas project reach a magnitude of between -8 and -9.5. Sometimes, some of its reflections are so bright that they can even be seen during the day and are mistaken by observers for “UFOs”. 

Aircraft tracking over the oceans

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the new Iridium-Aireon satellite network will be able to track all commercial aircraft in real time, anywhere on the planet. 

What is interesting about this new generation of Iridium satellites is that it will radically improve communications and the tracking of commercial aircraft flights around the world, especially when the routes are transoceanic and ground radars have not enough range. 

Falcon 9 rocket 

Last January, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the last ten satellites of the new "Iridium Communications" network into orbit, in which it invested 3,000 million dollars.

The Aireon company claims that seventy percent of the world’s airspace is unguarded and aircraft fly over the oceans and report their positions to air traffic control every 10 to 15 minutes, and between those times their position is unknown. 

In the future, the new Iridium-Aireon satellite network will make it impossible for a plane to disappear. It could also allow for more direct flight routes, the possibility of fewer delays, and shorter flight times between continents.

A flash from an Iridium satellite.

Iridium satellite - original versions.


A new satellites' generation.
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