[seqpg] COLLIDING SATELLITES (http://spaceweather.com/)

  • From: "VK4UTE" <vk4ute@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <seqpg@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 20:43:32 +1000

It was bound to happen sooner or later !

COLLIDING SATELLITES: For the first time ever, two large satellites have 
collided in Earth orbit. It happened on Tuesday, Feb. 10th, when Kosmos 2251 
crashed into Iridium 33 approximately 800 km over northern Siberia. Both 
satellites were completely destroyed. 

Click to view a 2.3 MB animation

U.S. Strategic Command is tracking hundreds of satellite fragments. In the 48+ 
hours since the collision, the debris swarm has spread around both orbits. 
Experts characterize the distribution as a pair of "clumpy rings"; one ring 
traces the orbit of Iridium 33, the other traces the orbit of Kosmos 2251.

This injection of debris substantially increases the population of space junk 
at altitudes near 800 km. Collisions are now more likely than ever. 
Fortunately, the International Space Station orbits Earth at a much lower 
altitude, 350 km, so it is in no immediate danger. The Hubble Space Telescope 
is not so safe at 610 km. In the days ahead, researchers will carefully study 
the make-up and dynamics of the debris cloud to estimate when bits will begin 
to drift down to lower altitudes. 

LISTEN UP: The US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar is monitoring the skies 
above Texas for echoes from satellite fragments. Try listening on Friday, Feb. 
13th between 11:12 and 11:21 CST (1712 - 1721 UT). That's when Iridium 33 would 
have passed over the radar intact had it not been shattered.

JPEG image

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  • » [seqpg] COLLIDING SATELLITES (http://spaceweather.com/) - VK4UTE