SCIENCE: Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

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Thread: Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

    The apparent destruction of a small Russian satellite six weeks ago highlights the growing threat space junk poses to activities in low-Earth orbit, experts say.

    The satellite and space junk crash involved Russia's Ball Lens In The Space nanosatellite, or BLITS, which likely collided on Jan. 22 with a piece of orbital debris spawned by a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test, SPACE.com reported Friday (March 8). The event adds another name to the list of spacecraft that have had run-ins with space junk.

    "It's not the wake-up call — we've had too many of those already," said Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation, an organization dedicated to the peaceful use of outer space.

    "Many satellites in LEO [low-Earth orbit] are having to maneuver on a regular basis to avoid threatening close approaches with debris," Weeden told SPACE.com via email. "This is just one more data point that shatters the myth of the 'big sky' theory regarding space activities and shows that debris is one of the most pressing threats satellite operators in LEO have to contend with." [Watch the Animation: Russian Satellite Hit by Space Junk]

    To illustrate his point, Weeden pointed to an article written in 2009 by David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Wright documents three previous known cases of an active satellite being struck by space junk — once each in 1996, 2007 and 2009 (when a U.S. telecommunications craft was destroyed by a collision with a dead Russian military satellite).

    "Because of the large number of active satellites in space (more than 900) and the very large amount of debris, we estimate that a collision between a piece of debris larger than 1 cm (0.4 inch) with some active satellite in a near-Earth orbit would occur on average every 2 to 3 years over the next decade (prior to several debris-producing events in 2007, our estimate was a collision every 5 to 6 years)," Wright wrote. "The observed collisions in 1996, 2007, and 2009 seem to roughly agree with this estimate."

    The Chinese anti-satellite test was, of course, one of the "debris-producing events" in 2007 that Wright references. In that controversial test, China destroyed one of its own defunct weather satellites, adding about 3,000 pieces of space junk to the ever-growing debris cloud around Earth.

    The last major space collision was in 2009. I suspect we'll be seeing more and more cases of this in the coming years.

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    That's nice.

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    URPG! GliscorMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

    It actually surprises me that there aren't more of these. We gotta stop treating space like a dump, it's not like the stuff just disappears.

    How to convince the politicians? It costs lots of money to fund a replacement. Even if they don't like funding NASA, they'll see that we should probably stop increasing the odds of something exploding.

    Credit to HikaruIzumi for the awesome avatar!

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    UPN 事務職員 Talon87's Avatar
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    Default Re: Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

    Eight years ago, Planetes offered me my first memorable look at the real-life problem of space debris. It saddens me that all these years later, instead of reading about technologies which are helping to "filter" low Earth orbit of its current debris problem, I'm instead continuing to read about one satellite after another taken out by debris and in the process begetting more debris, the problem exponentially spiraling out of control. I'm not necessarily asking for "garbagemen in space" as Planetes depicted it, but some sort of technology that is able to agglutinate debris without the debris punching a hole through it would be nice. Be it a synthetic polymer, be it an exotic metal alloy coating a satellite, be it whatever. Something which allows an entity in LEO to sweep its orbit of debris (and subsequently destroy that debris via incineration on re-entry). It seems there are quite a few research teams the world over working on these very technologies, but as far as I can find not a one of them has actually been successfully deployed.
    Infinity Mk-II likes this.
    Bashir: I can't believe you're not pressing charges.
    Garak: Constable Odo and Captain Sisko expressed a similar concern, but really, Doctor, there was no harm done.
    Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.
    Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
    Bashir: Garak, this isn't funny.
    Garak: I'm serious, Doctor! Thanks to your ministrations I'm almost completely healed, but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.

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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Russian Satellite Destroyed by Chinese Space Debris

    Quote Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
    Eight years ago, Planetes offered me my first memorable look at the real-life problem of space debris. It saddens me that all these years later, instead of reading about technologies which are helping to "filter" low Earth orbit of its current debris problem, I'm instead continuing to read about one satellite after another taken out by debris and in the process begetting more debris, the problem exponentially spiraling out of control. I'm not necessarily asking for "garbagemen in space" as Planetes depicted it, but some sort of technology that is able to agglutinate debris without the debris punching a hole through it would be nice. Be it a synthetic polymer, be it an exotic metal alloy coating a satellite, be it whatever. Something which allows an entity in LEO to sweep its orbit of debris (and subsequently destroy that debris via incineration on re-entry). It seems there are quite a few research teams the world over working on these very technologies, but as far as I can find not a one of them has actually been successfully deployed.
    That looks interesting, I think I would like that anime. I'll have to check it out.

    I did my senior capstone project on space debris for my aerospace engineering degree. It is a problem that seems overwhelming, but there are definitely solutions out there. The problem is, who is going to pay for it? There's no way a private company will pay for it because there is no profit incentive. Governments won't pay for it because no government wants to take responsibility. Sadly I think it will take something drastic like loss of human life before something is seriously done about it.
    That's nice.

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