It seems that humanity has just sunk a very large space-junk bullet.
No. Two large pieces Orbital debris – A fragmented Soviet navigation satellite and a spent Chinese rocket body – apparently orbited safely above each other over the South Atlantic Ocean on Thursday evening (Oct. 15).
California based space tracking company LeoLabs warned the world ahead of time In a closer approach, JD arrived at 8:56 pm EDT (1256 GMT. Oct. 16) on Dec. 16 as both craft flew 616 miles (991 kilometers) above the coast of Antarctica.
LeoLabs’ pre-encounter analysis suggests that each of the two objects will miss each other by only feet 3 feet (2 meters), plus or minus feet feet (1 m) – a number that is highly enduring in the game. Indeed, LeoLabs calculates smashup odds at more than 10%.
Space Junk Explained: Danger of Orbit Debris (Infographic)
No sign of a collision. 10 minutes after the ZCZ-4CR / B TCA passed over the LeoLabs Kiwi space radar. Our data shows only one shows object as we hope, no signs of debris. We will follow up on the medium with a full risk in-depth risk assessment of this event in the coming days!16 October October, 2020
But the company’s post-encounter scan indicates that the nightmare didn’t happen.
“There is no sign of a collision. The CZ-4CR / B TCA passed over the LeoLabs Kiwi space radar 10 minutes later. Our data shows only one shows object as we would hope, not signs of debris. We will follow this in the coming days. On the medium with a full in-depth risk assessment of the event! ”LeoLabs Tweeted Thursday evening. (The CZ-4CR / B is the Chinese rocket body, the Kiwi space radar is the company’s New Zealand tracking array, and the TCA is the “time to approach”.)
The “nightmare scene” isn’t really an exaggeration. The dead Russian satellite and the Chinese rocket body have a combined mass of about 6,170 lbs. (2,800 kg), Leolabse a Tweet on Tuesday (October 13). The two bodies were hurting each other at a relative speed of 32,900 miles per hour (52,950 kph), so the collision would have been extremely devastating, and a large cloud of debris had spread.
The smashup would have led to a “significant (10 to 20 percent) increase in LEOs [low Earth orbit] Debris Environment, “astronomer and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell, based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Said via Twitter on Wednesday.
That debris atmosphere is already noticeable. Scientists estimate that about 34,000 objects, more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide, are currently orbiting the Earth. European Space Agency. And the smaller you go the more numbers will become terrible. Orbitals range from 0.8 inches and 4 inches wide (1 to 10 cm) and 0.08-inches to 0.4-inches (1 mm to 1 cm) in the range of 128 million orbits, perhaps 900,000 or so.
Even that small flick can cause significant damage to the satellite, thanks to the great velocity involved. For example, over 250 miles (400 km) – the height of the International Space Station, which had to come Maneuver from three possible space-junk collisions In 2020 alone – 17,500 miles per hour (28,160 kilometers) than objects spit with barrels.
@ Leolabs_space per, bullet sank. But space debris is still a big problem.16 October October, 2020
Orbital collisions are not just the stuff of sci-fi films like 2013’s “Gravity.” In 2009, for example, a blood vessel named Cosmos 2251 was generated by a brawl in the Russian military satellite Operational Personal Communications Satellite Iridium into 33. 1,800 pieces of trackable debris The following October through October (and many many smaller ones to monitor).
During the devastating tests of anti-satellite technology conducted in 2007 and 2019 – and, crazily, humanity has deliberately spread debris clouds on two different occasions. China And IndiaRespectively.
The problem of debris will continue to grow as more and more satellites land in space – a trend that is accelerating, thanks to a steady decline in the cost of both launch and satellite development. And the problem could get out of hand, seriously threatening spaceflight and research activities, if we don’t start tackling it now, Many experts say
“@ Liolabs per space, the bullet sank. But space debris is still a big problem,” McDowell said. Another tweet on Thursday night.
Mike W. Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the quest for alien life. Follow him on Twitter મીMamildld. Follow us on Twitter @speed.com or Facebook.