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definition - Explorer 4

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Explorer 4

                   
Explorer 4
Explorer4 instruments.png
Operator Army Ballistic Missile Agency
Major contractors Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mission type Earth science
Satellite of Earth
Orbits ~5,930
Launch date July 26, 1958 at 15:07 UTC
Launch vehicle Jupiter-C
Mission duration 71 days
Orbital decay October 23, 1959
COSPAR ID 1958-005A
Homepage NASA NSSDC Master Catalog
Mass 25.5 kg
Orbital elements
Semimajor axis 7,616.2 km
Eccentricity .127936
Inclination 50.3°
Apoapsis 2,213 km
Periapsis 263 km
Orbital period 110.2 minutes

Explorer 4 (satellite 1958 epsilon) was a US satellite launched on July 26, 1958. It was instrumented by Dr. James van Allen's group. The Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency had initially planned two satellites for the purposes of studying the Van Allen radiation belts and the effects of nuclear explosions upon these belts (and the Earth's magnetosphere in general), however Explorer 4 was the only such satellite launched.

Explorer 4 was a cylindrically shaped satellite instrumented to make the first detailed measurements of charged particles (protons and electrons) trapped in the terrestrial radiation belts. An unexpected tumble motion of the satellite made the interpretation of the detector data very difficult. The low-power transmitter and the plastic scintillator detector failed September 3, 1958. The two Geiger-Müller tubes and the caesium iodide crystal detectors continued to operate normally until September 19, 1958. The high-power transmitter ceased sending signals on October 5, 1958. It is believed that exhaustion of the power batteries caused these failures. The spacecraft decayed from orbit after 454 days on October 23, 1959.

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