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Space Debris The Writing Is On The Wall

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This presentation reviews the history of space debris, and recent events

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Space Debris The Writing Is On The Wall

  1. 1. SPACE DEBRIS The writing’s on the wall Meidad Pariente
  2. 2. Presentation Content <ul><li>Space debris general background </li></ul><ul><li>Earth to Space Threats </li></ul><ul><li>Space to Space Threats </li></ul><ul><li>Space to Earth Threats </li></ul><ul><li>A few observations </li></ul>
  3. 3. One way to look at space debris…
  4. 4. Space Debris ? Not my problem ! <ul><li>Definition: Space debris, also known as orbital debris, space junk, and space waste, is the collection of objects in orbit around Earth that were created by humans but no longer serve any useful purpose. (Wikipedia) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Vast space, small satellites’ way of thinking </li></ul><ul><li>‘ No disasters – Why bother ?’ </li></ul><ul><li>Out of more than 20,000 space elements larger than 1 meter tracked during 2010, only 930 (less than 5%) were live operating satellites. </li></ul>
  5. 5. From Earth to Space <ul><li>Definition: Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. (Wikipedia) </li></ul><ul><li>US and USSR experimented freely with ASAT weapons, During the 60’s and 70’s </li></ul><ul><li>On January 11 th , 2007, China destroyed an old Chinese orbiting weather satellite </li></ul><ul><li>On February 21 st , 2008, USA destroyed a malfunctioning US spy satellite USA-193 </li></ul>
  6. 6. SPACE to SPACE threats – Space collisions <ul><li>Events of close proximity occur numerous times each day. </li></ul><ul><li>A Passive scanning and tracking system (SOCRATES) monitors the traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Sorting to identify those that are high risk presents a challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>Planning an avoidance maneuver can also be challenging. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Kessler Syndrome (Donald J. Kessler) <ul><li>The density of objects in Earth orbit is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade – each collision generating debris which increases the likelihood of further collisions. </li></ul><ul><li>42% of all cataloged debris was the result of only 19 events </li></ul>
  8. 8. Accidents have happened before: <ul><li>On August 11 th , 1993, the British Olympus-1 was hit by ‘something’ and left adrift. </li></ul><ul><li>On July 24 th , 1996, the French microsatellite Cerise (military use) was hit by fragments of an Ariane-1 launcher. </li></ul><ul><li>On March 29 th , 2006 the Russian Express-AM11 communications satellite span out of control due to cooler leakage, high chances it was hit by debris </li></ul>
  9. 9. 10/02/2009 -16:56 UTC
  10. 10. Few things you should know… <ul><li>“ The risk of collision per conjunction is one in 50 million (1:50,000,000)”… John Campbell, executive vice president of Iridium, June 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>This was not the top predicted close approach for that report or even the top predicted close approach for any of the Iridium satellites for the coming week !! </li></ul>
  11. 11. Recent events regarding space-space threats <ul><li>On October 28 th , 2010. a 5.37 ton satellite named EUTELSAT W3B suffered a major leak just after separation from Arianne and later on was declared a total loss. </li></ul><ul><li>On June 28 th , 2011 an emergency evacuation of the ISS was declared due to a dangerous Russian debris that was discovered at the last minute and flew less than 250 meters from the ISS. </li></ul><ul><li>On August 18 th , 2011, a 5.7 ton satellite named EXPRESS AM-4 was misplaced in orbit and now is considered a risk to GPS and GEO satellites </li></ul>
  12. 12. Possible Global Impacts ( SPACECIALIST research) <ul><li>‘ No-Launch’ period due to uncertainties of debris behavior could cause: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Satellite retiring without replacement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New satellites will probably be postponed or delayed, causing a slowdown in digital data transfer. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collision in the Geostationary belt could lead to traffic Jams on the only highway we have !! </li></ul>
  13. 13. Reentry: Space-to-Earth Threats Australia South Africa Russia US Saudi Arabia
  14. 14. Recent Reentry Events <ul><li>UARS – September 23 rd , 2011 – Debris spread Over the Pacific ocean (5.9 ton - total mass of ~530 kg hit earth) </li></ul><ul><li>ROSAT – October 23 rd , 2011 – Debris spread over the bay of Bengal (2.6 ton - total mass of ~1.7 ton hit earth) </li></ul><ul><li>Phobos-Grunt – A new type of hazard </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reentry date: Unkown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reentry location: Unknown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More than 10 tons of highly toxic frozen fuel </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. A Few Observations <ul><li>There are no laws regarding space debris (only gentlemen agreements). </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics works also in space (40% of earth’s surface is land, hence 2 out of 5 will crash on land). </li></ul><ul><li>Current passive warning systems HAVE NOT prevented even one incident. </li></ul><ul><li>Active measures must be taken NOW - even if we stop all launches, the problem will only become worse. </li></ul>