Abstract

Using a 15.9m baseline at the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI), we have successfully detected interferometric fringes in observations of the geosynchronous satellite (geosat) DirecTV-9S while it glinted on two nights in March 2009. The fringe visibilities can be fitted by a model consisting of two components, one resolved (3.7m) and one unresolved (1.1m). Both the length of the glint and the specular albedos are consistent with the notion that the glinting surfaces are not completely flat and scatter reflected sunlight into an opening angle of roughly 15°. Enhancements to the NPOI that would improve geosat observations include adding an infrared capability, which could extend the glint season, and adding larger, adaptive-optics equipped telescopes. Future work may test the feasibility of observing geosats with aperture-masked large telescopes and of developing an array of six to nine elements.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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