An old rocket fuselage and a military satellite — a large piece of space junk dating back to the Soviet Union — nearly collided. Thousands were in semi-destructive conditions Friday morning, nearly blowing debris away.
LeoLabs, a private company that tracks abandoned satellites and objects in low earth orbit, Observer Near collision of radar data. Capable of tracking objects as small as 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) in diameter, the company operates three radar stations, two in the United States and one in New Zealand.
The two objects moved in front of each other on Friday morning, January 27, at an altitude of 611 miles (984 kilometers). [20 feet] There is an error of tens of meters,” the company said in a statement. Tweet.
It’s incredibly close, Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told Smithsonian V. drawing Posted on Twitter. The SL-8 rocket body (NORAD ID 16511), specifically its second stage, has been in space since 1986, and the Cosmos 2361 military satellite (NORAD ID 25590), known as Parus, was launched in 1998. launched into low earth orbit. Between the two celestial bodies, thousands of new shards of debris will be created that will remain in Earth’s orbit for decades.
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Orbital conjunction eventbad neighborhood“According to LeoLabs, it lies between 590 and 652 miles (950 to 1,050 kilometers) from the surface. This band has it.”Great potential for debris generationIn low earth orbit, “due to a combination of fragmentation events and abandoned objects,” the company explained in a series of tweets.so-called bad district host About 160 SL-8 rocket objects have been launched with about 160 payloads over the decades.Leo Lab To tell Between June and September 2022, approximately 1,400 engagements involving these rocket bodies have been recorded.
Leo Lab Explanation The possibility of this kind of collision between “two gigantic ignored objects” was described as a “worst case scenario”, and could be “almost beyond our control, creating the ramifications of a severe collision encounter.” In fact, a collision of this magnitude will almost certainly trigger an ongoing Kessler syndrome. This is the steady accumulation of space debris that threatens to render parts of Earth’s orbit inaccessible.
Related story: What do we know about Kessler Syndrome, the ultimate space disaster
Near misses in space are becoming more and more common. Coupling between non-functioning satellites Also Debris Cloud Threatens International Space StationTaking SpaceX as an example, evasive maneuvers are now common practice for satellite operators. Over 26,000 Starlink satellite collision avoidance maneuvers From December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2022.
In addition to focusing on collision avoidance, LeoLabs recommended Implement debris mitigation and debris disposal efforts. This may take the form of reasonable guidelines for removal after the satellite is retired. Introduction of Debris removal technology.
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