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25 posts tagged space debris

FYI, We’ve at least 500,000 objects moving around 18,000 mph now.

^ True story.

(NASA’s next mission: Orbital recycling stations? Perhaps?)

For Space Mess, Scientists Seek Celestial Broom |

NASA just gave $1.9 million to Star Technology and Research, a small company in South Carolina, to develop and test technologies for a spacecraft it calls the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator — Edde, for short. Powered by a 6-mile-long wire — make that “space tether” — that generates energy as it is pulled through the Earth’s magnetic field, Edde would sidle up to a piece of junk, whip out a disposable net to catch it and then move to a lower orbit, where air friction would coax the item to re-enter the atmosphere. Edde, staying in orbit, would then move on to its next target.

Jerome Pearson, the president of Star Technology, says it would take only a few years and a few hundred million dollars for a fleet of Eddes to clean up the near-Earth neighborhood. continue reading

Swiss scientists develop “janitor satellite” to clean up space junk |

Swiss scientists said Wednesday they plan to launch a “janitor satellite” specially designed to get rid of orbiting debris known as space junk.

The 10-million-franc ($11-million) satellite called CleanSpace One — the prototype for a family of such satellites — is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.

EPFL said Wednesday its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks are to grab two Swiss satellites launched in 2009 and 2010.

The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are being tracked as they orbit Earth.

The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to destroy or inflict costly and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.

“It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” said Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and EPFL professor. continue reading

Space, junk, and living on the edge by TD architects

This infographic documents satellites in space, which countries own how many, and the amount of space junk we’ve left trailing about out there.

via unknownskywalker

Phobos-Grunt Mars probe crashes into the Pacific |

Orbital tracking reports suggest Russia’s failed Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, fell back to Earth on Sunday, to be destroyed over the Pacific.

Russian, US and European sources announced the demise of the craft within minutes of each other.

It brings to an end the sorry story of this mission, which promised to return rocky samples from Mars’ biggest moon.

Instead, after its launch in November, Phobos-Grunt could not get more than 345km from Earth before stalling.

Once it became clear that controllers could not establish contact with the probe and diagnose its faults, a fiery dive back to Earth was inevitable.

The spacecraft’s last orbit took it over Japan, and the Solomon Islands, and to the east of Australia and New Zealand. Conflicting reports then had the final re-entry point across a great swathe of the Southern Ocean. Certainly, it seems Phobos-Grunt was down and destroyed before it could have passed over South America.

(via itsfullofstars)

Russia’s Phobos-Grunt satellite, launched on November 9 and originally intended to be well on its way to Mars by now, is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in mid-January 2012. Most of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere, although some pieces may survive reentry. 

Space station to perform debris avoidance maneuver |

The International Space Station (ISS) will perform a maneuver on Friday to avoid debris from the U.S. Iridium 33 satellite, NASA said on Friday.

The ISS orbit will be raised 1.5 kilometers to 391.4 kilometers by firing the engines of the Zvezda service module, Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said. 
They will operate for 54 seconds, increasing the ISS speed by 0.85 meters per second.

The Iridium 33 satellite collided with the defunct Russian Cosmos 2251 satellite in 2009 and created a large amount of space debris.

ISS ballistics officers said on Thursday afternoon that the debris could possibly collide with the station. Flight Director Emily Nelson gave the go-ahead to proceed with the avoidance maneuver on Friday at 16:10 GMT using the Zvezda service module engines to readjust the space station, NASA said on its website.

Dreams, Dragons, and Space Debris |

The astronauts on the International Space Station talked to reporters today about their mission so far, and what’s ahead. André Kuipers is on the left, Dan Burbank in the middle, and Don Pettit on the right.

Parts of Doomed Russian Mars Probe to Hit Earth in January |

Current re-entry forecasts have the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft falling Jan. 14 or 15, plus or minus five days, according to space junk expert Heiner Klinkrad.

Russia’s marooned Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, currently stuck in orbit, is headed for a mid-January plunge into Earth’s atmosphere, and more than two dozen pieces of the huge spacecraft could survive the fall, scientists say.

"They assume that about 20 to 30 fragments will reach ground with an overall mass of less than 200 kilograms" ? some 400 pounds of leftover hardware, he said. continue reading

Klinkrad, head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency’s space operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, said Russian scientists are hard at work assessing the re-entry survivability of Phobos-Grunt, a spacecraft that tips the scale at nearly 14 tons.

Alice Gorman, space archaeologist |

Alice is an expert in traditional cultural heritage, in particular Aboriginal stone tool analysis, but her primary interest is space archaeology. She lectures in both areas at Flinders University.

When I tell people I’m a space archaeologist …

The first reaction is that they assume that I’m using remote sensing to look at sites on Earth. Then I say: ‘No, no, no, I’m actually looking at rockets and planetary landing sites and orbital debris’. And then sometimes there’s a look of puzzlement, then a little bit of a think, then I’ll see an expression of revelation and they’ll say: “Oh you’re actually looking at those things!” So either they’ll think it’s really crazy or ok, that all makes sense

I became interested in space archaeology …

When I was a little kid I wanted to be two things: an astrophysicist or an archaeologist and I ended up going down the archaeology path. But about seven or eight years ago, I put the two things back together again. I just wondered if all the principles that I was applying to my cultural heritage work with Aboriginal sites would work for space junk.

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