Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer

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Artist's conception of FAST
Mission type Space physics
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1996-049A
SATCAT № 24285
Mission duration 13 years
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer Office of Space Science Applications
Launch mass 187.0 kilograms (412.3 lb)
Power 60.0 watts
Start of mission
Launch date August 21, 1996, 09:47 (1996-08-21UTC09:47Z) UTC
Rocket Pegasus-XL
Launch site Stargazer, Vandenberg
End of mission
Last contact May 1, 2009 (2009-06)
Decay date in Orbit
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime MEO
Semi-major axis 8,380.9 kilometers (5,207.6 mi)
Eccentricity 0.1931699961423874
Perigee 348 kilometers (216 mi)
Apogee 4,159 kilometers (2,584 mi)
Inclination 82.9728°
Period 133.0 minutes
RAAN 345.3905 degrees
Argument of perigee 47.0537 degrees
Mean anomaly 327.7888 degrees
Mean motion 11.38249232
Revolution number 69554

The Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer (FAST) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on board a Pegasus XL rocket on August 21, 1996. One in the series of NASA's Small Explorer (SMEX) spacecraft, FAST was designed to observe and measure the plasma physics of the auroral phenomena which occur around both poles of the Earth. It is operated by the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory.[1]

The explorer was launched few days before the launch of the Interball aurora probe, whose objective was to study the aurora processes in conjunction with another probe located in the magnetotail.

Its electric field instrument failed circa 2002 but otherwise continued to operate normally.[1]

FAST supported the THEMIS mission in 2008 and 2009.[citation needed]

Normal operations ended on May 4, 2009.[1] After that, some limited operations and engineering tests continued.[citation needed]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Bilitza, Dieter. "NSSDC/COSPAR ID: 1996-049A Description (Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer)". National Space Science Data Center. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 

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