Kelso, T.S., N.N. Parkhomenko, V.D. Shargorodsky, V.P. Vasiliev, V.S. Yurasov, A.I. Nazarenko, S. Tanygin, and R.M. Hiles, "What Happened to BLITS? An Analysis of the 2013 Jan 22 Event," presented at the 14th Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, Maui, HI, 2013 September 11.
The BLITS retroreflector satellite was launched 2009 Sep 17 to conduct scientific experiments in geophysics, geodynamics, and relativity via high-accuracy laser ranging as part of the International Laser Ranging Service. On 2013 Jan 22, an event occurred which prevented further laser ranging. Subsequent investigation revealed a change in both orbit and spin rate that could not be explained without a breakup of BLITS or a collision of BLITS with another object. The identification by the Joint Space Operations Center of a piece of debris associated with BLITS supports these hypotheses. This paper will investigate the available data and assess the likelihood of either hypothesis as an explanation of the event.