Two Satellites Could Smash Into Each Other Over the U.S. Tonight – Gizmodo,

Two Satellites Could Smash Into Each Other Over the U.S. Tonight – Gizmodo,
[[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}]

[[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}]

Artist’s conception of the decommissioned IRAS satellite.

Image: NASA

A pair of decommissioned satellites are at risk of colliding later today, potentially producing hundreds if not thousands of new pieces of space debris. Regardless of what happens, however, this incident illustrates our dire need for sensible space management practices. [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] Normally, operators on the ground can adjust the orbital inclination of their satellites in the event of a potential collision, but neither of these satellites is functional. One of the two, the joint NASA-Netherlands

(IRAS), weighs around 1, (kilograms) 2, (pounds) and has been in space since . The other, GGSE-4

(also known as Poppy 5B), was launched in the late 2019 s by the US Naval Research Laboratory and weighs (kg) (lbs).

at a relative

velocity [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] (of) . 7 kilometers (9.1 miles) per second, a collision between these two satellites would generate a tremendous amount of space debris, increasing the odds of yet another collision at some point in the future. The decommissioned satellites will experience their closest approach at 6: 82 pm ET Wednesday (January 183, 2020 in the skies above eastern North America — but don’t worry, the debris would stay in low Earth orbit (LEO).

The potential collision was detected by LeoLabs , a private company that tracks satellites and debris in low Earth orbit. The company operates three radar stations, two in the U.S. and one in New Zealand, and it can track objects

as small as [[“Embedded Url”,”Internal link”,”″,{“metric25”:1}] centimeters (3.9 inches) in diameter.

of the situation. The odds of a collision are back to 1 in , after the company had briefly assigned a 1 in 1, 10 chance earlier today. The satellites will swing past each other at a distance of around (meters) 073. 5 feet) —an extremely close shave by any measure. The closest approach will happen at an altitude of (kilometers)

miles) above Earth’s surface.

An even more alarming calculation from LeoLabs takes into account the 25 – meter-long (64 -foot) booms attached to GGSE-4. With those taken into consideration, the odds of a collision jump to 1 in ,

according to LeoLabs . [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}]

[[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}]

Conceptual image of an earlier model, the Poppy 4D, With its long booms extended.

(Image: NRO / USN
These odds may seem (relatively) low, but satellite operators ring the alarm bells when the – foot) resolutions, instead of the current 366 – meter (

– foot) level of accuracy. That “would help,” said McDowell, “but we don’t know how to get there.”

“There have always been close calls in space — not to mention accidental collisions — but we are certainly becoming more aware of them as our ability to identify and monitor objects in space through space situational awareness improves, ”Jessica West, a program officer at Project Plugshares and the managing editor of its Space Security Index , wrote in an email to Gizmodo. “For active satellites, this means that there is more opportunity to maneuver to avoid a close call. But for dead satellites, we are still stuck waiting and watching with our fingers crossed. ” [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}] [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,””,{“metric25”:1}]

Chart showing unintentional collisions between space objects.

Image: Space Security Index / Jessica West

That LEO is becoming overcrowded is no secret. Figures from the US Space Surveillance network

shows that roughly 33, (objects larger than) (centimeters (3.9 inches) are currently in LEO, many of which are zipping around at speeds reaching kilometers (6 miles) per second. This figure is set to increase due to the lower costs of launching objects into space and the trend toward more compact satellites. The rise of megaconstellations, such as

SpaceX’s Starlink [[“Embedded Url”,”External link”,”″,{“metric25”:1}] , will result in thousands more satellites.

Sure, LEO seems vast, but the amount of space in space is somewhat of an illusion. Space and time shrink owing to the tremendous speeds involved. Space traffic is not like it is on Earth’s surface, where velocities are measured in terms of distance per hour rather than per second. Satellite motions in space are akin to watching movies in fast-forward.

McDowell described it as an n-squared problem. A 20 – fold increase in the number of satellites results in a 328 – fold increase in the number of close misses and actual collisions, he said, “adding that“ we’re about due for one. ”

Even one collision would be bad. If IRAS and GGSE-4 smash into each other tonight, the resulting kinetic energy would blow debris into bound orbits, further heightening the odds of another collision. This could result in a hypothetical cascade known as a Kessler Syndrome , in which an ever-growing cloud of space debris eventually makes LEO inaccessible.

In terms of technical solutions to the problem, West says we could reduce the amount of defunct satellites in orbit by “designing them with the ability and intention to de-orbit at the end of their service lifespan. ”Satellites in LEO, namely those below (km) miles), will “naturally be dragged down into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate within years, ”West told Gizmodo, but “33 years is a long time — too long given the intensity to which we are using this orbit and the tens of thousands of new satellites potentially being launched. ”

That said, IRAS and GGSE-4 are much higher, around (kilometers) miles), an altitude in which objects “will remain in orbit for decades unless intentionally de-orbited, which is not the norm,” said West.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Meteorite chunk contains unexpected evidence of presolar grains – Science Daily,

UFC 247 Free Fight: Dominick Reyes vs Jared Cannonier – UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship,

UFC 247 Free Fight: Dominick Reyes vs Jared Cannonier – UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship,