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I want to find out how to predict Iridium flares, but I don't know where to start. If I know Solar position, Iridium satelites' TLE and it's shape, I need a magnitude(time) function for some place on Earth. As I see now, main question is in satellite orientation (it's panels).

Any ideas?

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    $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, you do know there are websites and apps that do this down to the second already, right? So you're interested in how they accomplish this? $\endgroup$ – user10851 Jun 16 '13 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, I do. These are easy to google. But I found nothing about the way they do it. As I understand, it's simple geometry, but I know nothing about spatial orientation of the satellites. $\endgroup$ – timberhill Jun 16 '13 at 10:00
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You already know the sun and satellite position, so the only missing information is the orientation of the antenna. This can obtained from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_flare. Each satellite from the first generation has three antennas in a 40° degree angle with vertical axis of the satellite which always faces towards Earth (at least in the satellites which are still controlled). This is visualised in the following animation:

enter image description here

(image taken from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Iridium_animation.gif)

In addition one needs to know that one of the antennas always faces towards the travel direction of the satellite, the other two antennas face 120° away from the travel direction.

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  • $\begingroup$ "The forward antenna faces the direction the satellite is travelling" this is the crucial piece of information :) Thank you! $\endgroup$ – timberhill Aug 13 at 15:17

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