Minitrack - Technical Problems

Technical Problems

Although a Minitrack station could measure the angles to the satellites very accurately, using this information to determine an orbit required additional work.

  • The location of the station must be known very accurately. Prior to satellites, each continent had their own surveying coordinate system, and the relationship between these systems was not known accurately.
  • The time at the station must be known accurately. The solution was to set up an accurate clock at each station, and calibrate it by comparing to the radio transmissions of WWV.
  • Since more than one observation is needed to determine an accurate orbit, the data from each station must be sent to a central location for orbit determination. This was difficult since the stations were located in radio quiet areas, which therefore had little communications infrastructure. The US army pitched in and built new communications facilities for the stations.

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