Skip to Main Content
The tracking of artificial earth satellites is here viewed as an integrated research program. The physical and orbital specifications of the first U. S. satellites are assumed in the tracking program planned under an assignment made to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory by the IGY Satellite Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. The optical program involves early acquisition tracking by (radio or) visual means, frequent orbit calculations, ephemeris predictions for the precise photographic tracking, the establishment and operation of 12 to 15 precision photographic stations over the earth, operation of a communication net, and both current and final analysis of the positional data for important geophysical results. Such results include density determinations in the high atmosphere, geodetic system calibrations over the earth, shape of the geoid, isostasy investigations, and other geodetic studies to a precision an order of magnitude greater than presently possible.