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Explorer VIExplorer VI

launched August 7, 1959

Explorer VI was designed to study trapped radiation of various energies, cosmic rays, and geomagnetism. It also carried a scanning device designed for photographing the Earth's cloud cover.Launched into a highly elliptical orbit (altitude range of 147 to 26,000 miles), the satellite was powered by batteries recharged by four solar cell paddles. Only three of the solar panels fully erected after launch, however, so it was never able to operate at full capacity. Despite the loss of power, Explorer VI provided the most comprehensive data up to then of the Van Allen radiation belts and the geomagnetic field, as well as the first televised cloud cover pictures.One VHF transmitter failed on September 11, 1959, and the last contact with the payload was made on October 6, 1959, at which time the solar cell charging current had fallen below that required to maintain the satellite equipment. The satellite's orbit decayed on July 1, 1961.

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This page was last updated on 05/15/2016.

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