In the sky above our heads spinning mass of old and new hardware in the form of active and decommissioned satellites. Accidental collision of the most massive of them can lead to unpleasant consequences.
As we reported yesterday, high in the sky over the United States about the neighborhood in Pittsburgh could be a collision of two old satellites, the infrared space Observatory IRAS and American spy satellites GGSE 4 (different name? POPPY 5B). The weight of the Observatory a little more than a ton, and the weight of a spy satellite? 85 kg.
The relative velocity of motion of these spacecraft is 14,7 km/s. Clash threatened to create a belt of debris in the path of movement of the Observatory. It is a very unpleasant moment, because the IRAS orbit is sun-synchronous and is widely used by weather and spy satellites. Thus, in a relatively small space would be even closer.
Designed by California company LeoLabs the probability of collision ranged from 0.1 % to 5 %. The final calculation showed that the satellites will be held next at a distance of about 47 meters. Calculation services NASA was different? 0.07% of probability of collision. Observation of the situation confirmed that the satellites have missed it, and new fragments on their way the radar is not found.
At the same time, experts believe that in the coming years this will happen more and more often. The orbiting spacecraft becomes cheaper and cheaper to become satellites. In addition, the coming creation of a satellite network to provide Internet access with on orbit thousands and thousands of spacecraft. And if today the two old satellites missed without collision, then after a few years of low orbit will resemble the movement of the overgrown forest.