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Offline AshSimmonds

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Dammit - sure I made a post a year or two ago about a theory that within a couple decades we will be stuck on this planet indefinitely, and may not even have the use of satellites etc.

Brief version is - something explodes in orbit, millions of chunks of debris flying around at thousands km/h smashing up other satellites and causing more debris.  Eventually our planet is surrounded by debris and we are unable to get off the planet for hundreds/thousands of years until we come up with an alternate form of transportation not susceptible to these effects.  Not to mention the chances of space-junk-rain...

Anyhoo - it has begun :darkside:

Quote
US, Russian satellites crash; clouds of space debris pose threat

12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth

    * Russian, US satellites collide over Serbia
    * Debris could hit space station, more satellites
    * Switched on: Technology news and reviews

A RUSSIAN and a US satellite have crashed into each other in an unprecedented collision, creating clouds of space debris.

A disused Russian military satellite, Kosmos 2251, collided with a US communications satellite about 800km above Siberia.

The news raises concern over the growing swarms of hazardous debris orbiting the Earth, accumulated after more than five decades of human activity in space.

The magnitude of the two large debris clouds from the collision would not be known for several weeks, NASA said.

"So far, NASA experts have determined that the risk to the (International) Space Station is elevated. They estimate the risk to be very small and within acceptable limits," said spokesman John Yembrick.

The space station orbits about 354km above the Earth, far below the point of collision.

But NASA's Earth observation satellites and the Hubble Space Telescope travel at higher orbits and could face a greater risk of damage.
Related Coverage

"NASA's Earth-observing satellites orbit at an altitude of approximately 707km, which is not far from the 790km altitude of the collision. They are of the highest concern as NASA learns more about the newly-created debris field," Mr Yembrick said.

Although "all satellites operating in or passing through low-Earth orbit potentially are at risk of being impacted, including at least 20 NASA satellites, the risk is considered very low", he said.

The Pentagon acknowledged it had not anticipated the accident.

"We did not predict this collision," said spokesman Bryan Whitman, citing "limits" on the ability to track the thousands of man-made objects orbiting the Earth.

The debris from the defunct 900kg Russian satellite launched in 1993, and its 560kg US counterpart could be significant.

"We are looking at around more than 500 pieces of debris," said Navy Lieutenant Charlie Drey, a spokesman with US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), whose Joint Space Operations Centre tracks more than 18,000 man-made objects orbiting the Earth.

"Anytime you have something like this happen, there is a concern about other objects that are in orbit. Now that you have all this debris there, it does pose a risk to satellites."

Analysts are plotting the coordinates of each of the debris pieces, which will later be posted on the website space-track.org.

NASA said the launch of its space shuttle Discovery to the ISS due February 22 at the earliest would not be at risk.

Before the latest incident, there were over 300,000 orbital objects measuring between 1cm to 10cm in diameter and "billions" of smaller pieces, according to a 2008 report by the Space Security Index, a international monitoring group.

Travelling at speeds that can reach many thousands of kilometres per hour, the tiniest debris can damage or destroy a spacecraft.

In June 1983, the windscreen of the US space shuttle Challenger had to be replaced after it was chipped by a fleck of paint measuring 0.3 millimetres that impacted at 4km per second.



Offline dkabab

I always thought things that orbit the earth stay in the same position relative to the ground. Which is why there aren’t many collisions.
They are obviously moving at great “air speed”, however their “ground speed” is nil.



Offline Aircon

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Dammit - sure I made a post a year or two ago about a theory that within a couple decades we will be stuck on this planet indefinitely, and may not even have the use of satellites etc.

Brief version is - something explodes in orbit, millions of chunks of debris flying around at thousands km/h smashing up other satellites and causing more debris.  Eventually our planet is surrounded by debris and we are unable to get off the planet for hundreds/thousands of years until we come up with an alternate form of transportation not susceptible to these effects.  Not to mention the chances of space-junk-rain...

Anyhoo - it has begun :darkside:



In June 1983, the windscreen of the US space shuttle Challenger had to be replaced after it was chipped by a fleck of paint measuring 0.3 millimetres that impacted at 4km per second.




that's quite fast!
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Offline Aircon

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I always thought things that orbit the earth stay in the same position relative to the ground. Which is why there aren’t many collisions.
They are obviously moving at great “air speed”, however their “ground speed” is nil.


that's interesting...do they call it air speed? doesn't make sense in some ways.
I love my car. Buy your own



Offline app


  • Joined: Sep 2008

  • Location: Adelaide
Dammit - sure I made a post a year or two ago about a theory that within a couple decades we will be stuck on this planet indefinitely, and may not even have the use of satellites etc.

Brief version is - something explodes in orbit, millions of chunks of debris flying around at thousands km/h smashing up other satellites and causing more debris.  Eventually our planet is surrounded by debris and we are unable to get off the planet for hundreds/thousands of years until we come up with an alternate form of transportation not susceptible to these effects.  Not to mention the chances of space-junk-rain...

Anyhoo - it has begun :darkside:


i'm no rocket scientist, but i would've thought debris would burn up in space?? or even the earth's atmosphere if it entered the earth.



Offline AshSimmonds

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I always thought things that orbit the earth stay in the same position relative to the ground. Which is why there aren’t many collisions.
They are obviously moving at great “air speed”, however their “ground speed” is nil.

No - I can't quote numbers but I think there's a very limited amount of geostationary satellites as they have to be allocated their own "level" or something like that.

that's quite fast!

Around about that time I remember watching a "live" broadcast of a new sensor on one of the satellites which showed the impacts of space-dust or whatever.  I don't recall much about it - just that the display was a big blue screen and the excitement was around the flecks hitting it now and then - I have a feeling this might have been something to do with that incident.

As a side note, Sputnik - the first deliberate* man-made satellite - was launched on my birthday, in my mum's birth-year. :tilt:


*there were dubious reports that the first man-made object in outer space was possibly a manhole cover, after underground nuclear testing supposedly "shot it into outer space".



Offline AshSimmonds

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i'm no rocket scientist, but i would've thought debris would burn up in space?? or even the earth's atmosphere if it entered the earth.

It won't in space because there's no friction - in lower orbits where there begins to be some atmosphere is where it would burn - whether it makes it to the surface in it's descent depends on how big a piece it is and what materials and trajectory of entry etc etc.



Offline app


  • Joined: Sep 2008

  • Location: Adelaide
It won't in space because there's no friction - in lower orbits where there begins to be some atmosphere is where it would burn - whether it makes it to the surface in it's descent depends on how big a piece it is and what materials and trajectory of entry etc etc.

ah okay, that makes sense. too bad we didn't think of the consequences of our actions we decided to put a thousand satellites up there. does that mean our GPS' will be useless in the next decade or 2??

does this remind anyone of the simpsons episode where there was a meteorite heading towards springfield and homer said it would just burn up in the atmosphere and no one, obviously, listened to him, and it did end up burning up in the atmosphere. i thought that was funny.



Offline allanuber


  • Joined: Aug 2007

  • Location: Sydney
  • Name: Al
ah okay, that makes sense. too bad we didn't think of the consequences of our actions we decided to put a thousand satellites up there. does that mean our GPS' will be useless in the next decade or 2??

Bit hard to have GPS without satellites   :doh:
C'mon, do it!



Offline dkabab

ah okay, that makes sense. too bad we didn't think of the consequences of our actions we decided to put a thousand satellites up there.

Bit of a catch 22 there…. We build the things and they improve our way of life, yet lead to our “entrapment on earth”. But if we never built them, we wouldn’t have half the things we have today… and it wouldn’t matter cos we wouldn’t have the technology to go beyond them anyway….



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