Baker-Nunn

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  • The Baker-Nunn system, like Minitrack, provided little real-time data and was limited to night, clear weather operations.
  • At this point, professionals at the Baker-Nunn stations would take over the full-time task of photographing them.
  • Early in the program, optical tracking (with a Baker-Nunn camera network and human spotters) was added.
  • The Baker-Nunn space camera station was constructed on Sand Island and was functioning by 1965.
  • It replaced an older system of six 20 inch (half meter) Baker-Nunn cameras which used photographic film.
  • When the satellite was near perigee, it was observed by networks of ground-based Baker-Nunn cameras, as well as being tracked by radio and radar.
  • These were called Baker-Nunn cameras after their designers, and consisted of a very precise tracking system combined with an unusually large, wide-field camera for photographing large areas of the sky.
  • From the start, Whipple planned that the professionally manned Baker-Nunn stations would be complemented by teams of dedicated amateurs.
  • The instruments at these stations were eventually designed by Dr. James G. Baker and Joseph Nunn and hence known as Baker-Nunn cameras.
  • Data from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory was also used which included camera (Baker Nunn) and some laser ranging.
  • Contributions came from radar stations, Baker-Nunn cameras, telescopes, radio receivers, and the Operation Moonwatch participants.
  • Like its contemporary volunteer visual-tracking program called Moonwatch, it continued for some years as a supplement to the Baker-Nunn operation, since its results could fill in for the main system's losses due to, for example, weather problems.
  • Concurrent with Minitrack was the use of the Baker-Nunn satellite tracking cameras.
  • In addition to over 200 teams of amateur scientists around the world that were part of Operation Moonwatch, there were also 12 photographic Baker-Nunn stations.
  • The U.S. Air Force had ten Baker-Nunn camera stations around the world mostly from 1960 to 1977 with a phase-out beginning in 1964.
  • The facility was built as part of a project to develop new techniques for detecting satellites with electronic imaging devices, which were eventually to replace Project Space Track's Baker-Nunn photographic system.
  • Amateur satellite spotters would inform the Baker-Nunn stations as to where to look, an important task given that scientists working on the Vanguard program likened finding a satellite in the sky to finding a golf ball tossed out of a jet plane.
  • USAF 18th Surveillance Squadron operated the Baker-Nunn camera at a station built along the causeway on Sand Island until 1975 when a contract to operate the four remaining Air Force stations was awarded to Bendix Field Engineering Corporation.
  • The SITU used a Baker Nunn satellite tracking camera system and this was augmented in 1978 by the Space Object Identification Telescope.
  • Space Track acted as liaison between the 6594th and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, to use their Baker-Nunn camera at Cadiz, Spain, to photograph the light.
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