Altai Optical Laser Center (AOLC) near Savvushka, Russia. Credit: V.P. Aleshin, E.A. Grishin, V.D. Shargorodsky, D.D. Novgorodtsev

Altai Optical Laser Center (AOLC) near Savvushka, Russia.
Credit: V.P. Aleshin, E.A. Grishin, V.D. Shargorodsky, D.D. Novgorodtsev

A team of Russian researchers are using the Altai Optical Laser Center (AOLC) near Savvushka, Russia to image from the ground various spacecraft.

The intent of their work is to help solve problems in space surveillance. They report that the use of adaptive optics at AOLC allows the analysis of spacecraft that run into emergency situations.

A paper authored by the Russian team is circulating in satellite-watcher circles. That paper contains a revealing look at one of their observational targets: the U.S. spysat, the Lacrosse 5.

Ground up look at U.S. spysat, Lacrosse 5. Credit: Altai Optical Laser Center/V.P. Aleshin, E.A. Grishin, V.D. Shargorodsky, D.D. Novgorodtsev

Ground up look at U.S. spysat, Lacrosse 5.
Credit: Altai Optical Laser Center/V.P. Aleshin, E.A. Grishin, V.D. Shargorodsky, D.D. Novgorodtsev

That National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite was lofted on April 30, 2005.

Lacrosse spacecraft were equipped with synthetic aperture radar as its prime look-see instrument, permitting day/night imaging of select targets.

It appears that Lacrosse 5 has a planar radar antenna, unlike the dish antennas of earlier Lacrosses, notes satellite watcher, Allen Thomson, who recently posted the Russian paper.

While once a hush-hush satellite, the NRO declassified the existence of the Lacrosse satellite constellation in 2008.

The Russian document also includes an analysis of the emergency with the Russian Mars-bound Phobos-Grunt probe that went awry shortly after launch in November 2011. It fell back to Earth in January 2012.

For a read of “Altay Optic-Laser Center Capability to Satellites Emergencies Estimation,” go to:

http://aero.tamu.edu/sites/default/files/images/Alfriend/S4%203%20Aleshin.pdf

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