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Satellites Colliding in Space

February 16, 2009
DeeptiA

One always thinks of space as a large open area, with plenty of space in all directions. You combine this space with the concept of satellites being well regulated and following controlled orbits, and then it is difficult to believe that satellites under the control of such countries such as the United States and Russia could actually collide, and yet that is exactly what seems to have happened:

The collision between a U.S. and a Russian satellite over Siberia may have been accidental and the first of its kind, but experts say more crashes will inevitably occur and could have geopolitical consequences. "This is an event that really makes us realize that things are not so straightforward as we originally thought," said Francisco Diego, a senior research fellow in physics and astronomy at University College London.

The collision, between a spacecraft operated by U.S. communications group Iridium Satellite LLC and a Russian Cosmos-2251 military satellite, happened 485 miles above the Russian Arctic on Tuesday afternoon. The crash sent at least 600 pieces of debris off into space, officials said, increasing the risk that other satellites, including the vast International Space Station, which orbits 220 miles up, could be struck and damaged.
This crash may have been accidental, but what is to prevent countries from investing in such technologies? For example, a couple of such crashes have the effect of impacting the GPS and communication technologies that are used by the US military to great affect. Already, the US is looking at even guiding bombs through the use of GPS and satellite, which makes the demolition of satellites an important aspect in war.

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Satellites Colliding in Space

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Author: DeeptiA

 

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#1
Ayan Roy
February 16, 2009
03:32 PM

Space junk!! hell, now we got traffic congestion in outer space. :-) It's a major hazard in the artificial satellite belt up there around Earth. Pretty unpredictable too. A tiny speck of paint and metal peeled off from a satellite (size of a fingernail) is capable of reaching speeds of 20,000 km/h and has the potency to cause a severe crack and subsequent air-explosion in any spacecraft like a space shuttle, if it impacts the windows.
The only good thing for lesser mortals on ground zero is that any satellite falling downwards from the orbital heights will most probably burn up and disintegrate before it hits the Earth's surface.

#2
SanjayTheAtheist
February 16, 2009
11:22 PM

What do you mean "looking at guiding bombs through the use of GPS and satellite"?? That's long been the case.

Well, there's not a whole lot that can be done about all the junk that's up there, as it's spread across a wide volume of space. It's a matter of building appropriate shielding for the spacecraft, and putting them into stable, collision-free orbits.

Maybe one day there will have to be an international building-code for satellites, perhaps to make them out of materials that can easily be collected (eg.magnetic), or that can naturally degrade (eg. under radiation) over time.

#3
Ashish
URL
February 17, 2009
04:33 AM

Or maybe have each satellite always mandated to have a bit of fuel left so that they can be guided to always burn up in the atmosphere

#4
lieben
URL
March 3, 2009
05:24 AM

Interessante Informationen.

#5
lieben
URL
March 3, 2009
05:25 AM

Interessante Informationen.

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