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Thread: Current Events in Astronomy

  1. #121
    My inner Mulder wants to believe, but my inner Scully remains skeptical.

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  3. #123
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    As the movie 'Gravity" showed us, space junk can have catastrophic results.
    Have to wonder about the trade off between launching inexpensive payloads, and the continual growth in number of objects than can present a danger to future projects.


    Could Cubesats Trigger a Space Junk Apocalypse?
    Tereza Pultarova, Space.com Contributor


    The growing popularity of small satellites as well as the upcoming deployment of low-Earth orbit mega-constellations will likely greatly increase the amount of space junk as well as the frequency of catastrophic collisions, a study led by the United Kingdom's University of Southampton suggests.

    Tiny satellites such as cubesats have democratized access to space. But for space environment researchers, the technology, praised for its low cost and short timeline from design to launch, is something of a headache.

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has already experienced a nearly "Gravity"-like scenario last August, when a 0.4-inch (1 centimeter) fragment cut a 16-inch (40 cms) hole into a solar panel of the agency's flagship Earth-observing satellite Sentinel-1A. [Space Particle Slams Into Satellite, Damages Solar Array (Video)]

    "Seven fragments have been produced in that accident that are now tracked by the surveillance system," Holger Krag, the head of ESA’s Space Debris Office, said yesterday (April 18) during an opening session of the 7th European Conference on Space Debris in Darmstadt, Germany.

    "One of them generated a conjunction alert with sister spacecraft Sentinel-1B, which is flying in the same orbit but 180 degrees apart," Krag added.

    The low-Earth orbit (LEO) environment is getting increasingly cluttered, with some 100 to 150 cubesats being deployed each year. Over the next 50 years, the trend might result in a 50 percent increase in the number of collisions far more damaging than that involving Sentinel-1A and a 30 percent increase of space debris objects larger than 4 inches (10 cm), experts have said.

    "There are two trends that concern us when it comes to space debris," Hugh Lewis, aerospace engineering lecturer from the University of Southampton, said at the conference. "One is the deployment of very large constellations such as OneWeb or SpaceX. The other is the upturn in the number of small satellites being launched into low-Earth orbit."
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  4. #124
    My inner Mulder wants to believe, but my inner Scully remains skeptical.

  5. #125
    Alltime10s
    10 Astronomical Events That Will Happen In Your Lifetime


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