Explorer 52

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Hawkeye 1 / Explorer 52
Explorer 52 / Hawkeye 1
Organization: NASA / Langley Research Center
Major Contractor: Department of Physics and Astronomy · University of Iowa
Mission Type: Space Physics
Satellite of: Earth
Launch: June 3, 1974 at 23:09:11 UTC
Launched from: Vandenberg AFB, California
Launch Vehicle: Scout-E1[1]
Decay: April 28, 1978
Mission Duration: 1,425 days
Mass: 22.65 kilograms (49.9 lb)
Power: 22 to 36 watts
NSSDC ID: 1974-040A
Webpage: NASA NSSDC Master Catalog
Orbital elements
Semi-major axis:
Eccentricity: 0.9012719988822937
Inclination: 89.80000305175781°
Orbital Period: 3032.39990234375 minutes
Apogee: 125.570 kilometres (78.026 mi)
Perigee: 469.0 kilometres (291.4 mi)
Orbits: 667
Plasma wave receiver: Plasma distribution in solar wind
Fluxgate magnetometer: Magnetic field in the solar wind
Low energy proton-electron differential energy analyzer: Polar magnetosphere of the earth out to 21 earth radii, Type-3 radio emissions caused by solar electron streams in the interplanetary medium.

Explorer 52 was a US satellite launched on June 3, 1974 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Scout booster.[2] This satellite was also known as:

  • Hawkeye 1
  • IE D
  • Injun 6
  • Injun F
  • Neutral Point Explorer
  • 07325

The primary mission objective of Hawkeye 1 (Explorer 52) was to conduct particles and fields investigations of the polar magnetosphere of the earth out to 21 earth radii. Secondary objectives were to make magnetic field and plasma distribution measurements in the solar wind, and to study Type-3 radio emissions caused by solar electron streams in the interplanetary medium. To accomplish these objectives, the spacecraft was instrumented with following instruments:

  • a plasma wave receiver,[3]
  • a fluxgate magnetometer,[4] and
  • a low energy proton-electron differential energy analyzer.[5]

The spacecraft was spin stabilized with a nominal rotational period of 11 s. In celestial coordinates, the positive spin axis coordinates were right ascension 299.4 deg (plus or minus 1.1 deg) and declination 8.6 deg (plus or minus 1.5 deg). There was no onboard orientation or spin rate control, but the orientation of the spin axis was stable. An optical aspect system operated from launch until September 3, 1974. After this period, aspect had to be determined from magnetometer measurements. The complete spacecraft with instruments had a mass of 22.65 kg. Power of 22 to 36 W, depending on solar aspect, was obtained from solar cells. Hawkeye 1 participated in the International Magnetospheric Study (IMS) and during the first half of 1977 data acquisition was confined to IMS special intervals. Data were obtained in real time only, at frequencies of 136 MHz and 400 MHz at 100 bit/s (or 200 bit/s with convolutional coding) plus wideband VLF data.

It was designed, built, and tracked by personnel at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa whose sports teams are the Hawkeyes. The spacecraft was launched on June 3, 1974 into a polar orbit with initial apogee over the North Pole and re-entered on April 28, 1978 after 667 orbits or nearly four years of continuous operation. The spacecraft apogee was between 20.28 and 20.92 Earth radii with less than a 1.7 Earth radii perigee. The orbital period was 51.3 hours. During its lifetime, the inclination of the plane of the spacecraft's orbit to the Earth's equator decreased monotonically from 89.81 to 81.85 degrees. The spacecraft's axis of rotation at launch was inertially fixed in its orbital plane, directed towards a constant right ascension and declination, and nearly parallel to the Earth's equatorial plane.


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