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The orbit of the Russian earth satellite is being affected by some force not explained by the laws of gravity, according to a report yesterday by J. Allen Hynek, associate director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Hynek revealed that information received from both the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and a Smithsonian staff astronomer in California led to the conclusion that the satellite's orbital plane is apparently turning faster than expected as a result of this unknown force.
"The magnetic field of the earth seems to be too weak to account for this effect," said Hynek. "Gravity explains about 99 per cent of the motion. The extra bit needed to explain the extra perturbation is not gravity, unless the earth has a distribution in mass much different than we have assumed."
Hynek said that this unexpected motion might explain the difficulties which scientists have encountered in attempting to establish a definite orbit for the satellite.
The Naval Research Laboratory announced later that "this effect can not be produced by atmospheric drag. It remains to experiment further with various hypotheses which may be expected to supply an explanation."
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