San Marco Italian Satellite
San Marco was an Italian earth atmosphere satellite. The launch vehicle was provided by NASA and had been launched with an Italian launch crew. There were a total of five launches of the San Marco satellite, beginning on December 12, 1964, and the last launch on March 25, 1988. This Italian satellite was used for atmospheric density studies. The Italian-built San Marco Satellite was a cooperative space effort between the Italian Space Commission (CRS) and NASA. The primary objectives of the mission were to provide density, neutral composition, and temperature data describing the equatorial upper atmosphere at altitudes of 200 km and above and to measure variations in these parameters as functions of solar and geomagnetic activity. Another objective was to determine the neutral density by using three independent measuring techniques. The spacecraft was a 75-cm-diameter sphere. Four 48-cm antennas protruded from the top of the sphere, for command and telemetry transmission. The structure of the spacecraft formed an important part of the drag balance experiment. There was a light, external, outer shell was connected by a series of elastic arms to a heavier internal framework. Thus, from changes in the flexible arms connecting the two structures, atmospheric drag was determined. Other onboard experiments included an omegatron mass spectrometer that directly measured the density and temperature of molecular nitrogen and a Neutral Atmospheric Composition Experiment (NACE) that directly measured the density of the molecular nitrogen, molecular oxygen, atomic oxygen, argon, and helium. In 1962 NASA signed an agreement with the Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali at the University of Rome creating the San Marco program. The purpose of the program was to place an Italian satellite in orbit and to create an Italian equatorial launch site for the Scout rocket. Permission was obtained from Kenya to emplace two modified oil platforms off their coast, on...
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