Questions tagged [debris]

Questions about debris in space, often in Earth orbit. Usually referring to nonoperational man-made satellites or parts of satellites.

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3
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1answer
151 views

Why is “Terminator Tape” electrically conductive?

A 230 foot long tape deployed from the satellite Prox-1 greatly reduced how long it took to deorbit. The tape was described as electrically conductive. Was that property intended to help the ...
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1answer
3k views

Why aren't there any active space debris removal systems implemented currently?

As of July 2013, estimates of more than 170 million debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 670,000 debris 1–10 cm, and approximately 29,000 larger pieces of debris are in orbit. Space debris poses ...
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What is the mysterious object flying by in this SpaceX video?

In the last second of this video tweeted by spaceX, you can see an object fly by on screen. Did this come from the SpaceX ship, or is it foreign space junk? If it turns out to be the latter, is that a ...
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Determine if two orbits cross paths

I'm trying to determine which orbital object will have the most close calls with another object. I've gotten the full TLE catalog from Space-Track.org, and using poliastro python package have ...
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1answer
66 views

How fast is space debris travelling? [duplicate]

How fast is orbital debris travelling? I believe the speeds would vary based on the debris size, so what would be the range of velocities in that case?
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24 views

Could ejecta from asteroid Bennu enter into temporary orbit around it? If so, how?

The New York Times article The Asteroid Was Shooting Rocks Into Space. ‘Were We Safe in Orbit?’ mentions concerns about material ejected from the Bennu entering temporary orbit around the asteroid ...
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1answer
78 views

What exactly is SL-24 DEB (2010-028D)?

After 3 months of work I've been able to spot satellite debris with my 20x80 binoculars for the first time. The object in question is SL-24 DEB (2010-028D). According to the data presented in www.in-...
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1answer
78 views

Space Debris and Megaconstellations: plans for ~1000kms altitude orbits

SpaceX's Starlink and other mega-constellation plans highlight safe de-orbiting features but does this also extend to altitudes higher than 1,000 kms? My concern is whether these smaller sats will ...
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1answer
87 views

How to identify an object in orbit last night?

I saw an object last night (November 24, 2019) in the sky that was rather unusual and am curious about what it might have been. It had the luminosity and speed of movement across the sky (generally ...
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5k views

What is the largest piece of space debris volumetrically?

What is the largest piece of space debris currently in Earth orbit by volume? Space debris is not limited to defunct satellites, but also includes things like spent upper stages. Bonus points for ...
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176 views

SpaceX's Starlink and astronomy

I was reading articles about Starlink and some concerned astronomers that SpaceX Starlink will lead to more space junk and eventually the death of ground based astronomy. I am just wondering how ...
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1answer
185 views

What would the Voyager probes look like today?

In the 40+ years since their launching, after traveling through the solar system and now beyond, what would the Voyager probes look like today if we could see them up close? Would they look noticeably ...
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97 views

Could 2 space ships traveling at different time pass through the same space?

This question flows from the recent question Would rocket engine exhaust create pockets of gas in space which could hinder further space exploration? it talks about daily Earth - Moon trips If we ...
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1answer
74 views

Could any “Well-Tracked Analyst Object” turn out to be a natural object or even something else?

The excellent satellite tracking database www.space-track.org, which is mantained by the United States Space Command, offers to the public accurate and up-to-date orbital elements for thousands of ...
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1answer
201 views

Would Kessler Syndrome feasibly get bad enough to prevent punching through to higher orbits?

(Related: How expensive would it be to make a spacecraft that can survive leaving an Earth suffering from Kessler Syndrome?) Kessler Syndrome is a theoretical scenario in which the density of objects ...
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1answer
139 views

Piece of debris in Venera 13 surface photos

(Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) In the Venera 13 Surface photo there is a piece of debris visible (the big thing slightly left of center). It looks like a sort cover, but maybe ...
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1answer
92 views

When would it be feasible to recycle the satellites in graveyard orbit?

How feasible would it be to move the ISS to the surface of the Moon to recycle its components in future? I don't want to take them to the moon. I'm thinking of a manufacturing/recycling center ...
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2answers
4k views

Is it possible to observe space debris with Binoculars?

Recently I've started to observe satellites with my 20x80 Binoculars. I'm amazed by the fact I can clearly track satellites and rocket bodies at 2000 km altitude (I've reached 8 mag with some objects) ...
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72 views

Calculation of collision probability based on TLE

I have to calculate the probability of collision at moment $t$ with space debris. I am using JSPOC algorythm described in https://www.space-track.org/documents/...
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1answer
140 views

Regulation in space, debris and end of life considerations

Is it time to 'loosely' regulate space exploration? With the boom thanks to the CubeSat revolution, the number of space objects is increasing rapidly. With almost minimal debris or end of life ...
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45 views

Which space debris are used for science purpose?

I already know that some Apollo's space debris were used for seismic study of the Moon. Other debris may be used for scientific studies. By debris, I mean space objects that have no purpose or ...
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1answer
53 views

What is the latest plan to ameliorate the largest drifts of orbital space debris?

Given decades of orbital space launches around the world for whatever reason, there are now massive constellations of many hundreds of thousands of pieces of cast-off hardware and fragments of ...
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1answer
148 views

Would SpaceX's Starlink constellation contribute inordinately to space debris?

I mean they already launched a large constellation of 60 satellites and have plans to launch many more; won't all this contribute inordinately to existing space junk, which is actually becoming a real ...
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344 views

What are these four “debris” objects along with the Starlink satellites?

Celestrak has an updated system of categories for retrieving lists of current TLEs, and there's already one for Starlink, yay! Currently https://www.celestrak.com/NORAD/elements/starlink.txt contains ...
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1answer
91 views

Impact of Constellations on Space Debris and Launch Windows

With the decline of massive GEO satellites and a big increase in smallsat and cubesat, especially those in constellations, I wonder what their impact is on space debris. Those smaller satellites do ...
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Is it possible to remove space junk using magnets? [duplicate]

I have heard that the earth is surrounded with tiny bits of "space junk". I was wondering, why not send a large magnet into orbit and collect all the junk? And by time the magnet is covered with ...
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223 views

How will Starlink satellites be capable of tracking on-orbit debris and autonomously avoiding collision?

The press kit for the first Falcon 9 Starlink launch and deployment of the first 60 satllites scheduled for May 15, 2019 says: Starlink satellites are capable of tracking on-orbit debris and ...
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78 views

What is a “critical mass” equivalent of number of satellites on LEO that would initiate chain reaction of destruction if 2 of them collide?

If a satellite is destroyed and blown to multiple small pieces of debris, each one of these pieces has tiny probability of destroying another satellite, creating more debris which now will have even ...
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27 views

Listing objects and space probes beyond Earth orbit in Space Track?

Can anyone tell me how to query Space Track to list objects that are beyond Earth orbit. I am thinking of things such as the Voyagers, the Tesla Roadster and Pioneer, as examples? While there is a ...
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2answers
148 views

Do the velocities of orbital debris have a bias in the direction of Earth's rotation?

Most spacecraft are launched and orbit prograde -- in the same direction that the Earth rotates -- to give a "speed boost" to get to orbital velocity. One would therefore expect that the trajectories ...
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4k views

Should man-made satellites feature an intelligent inverted “cow catcher”?

Disclaimer: I have no formal education in science. Also, I'm a dummy! Locomotives usually feature a shield that deflects objects on a train's track. My understanding is that since satellites ...
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2answers
153 views

How many spy satellites could be destroyed before the debris field would be too massive to launch moon or mars manned missions?

Obviously this is very statistical. Basically I'm looking for an order of magnitude. One geostationary satellite would cause a pinball effect or would it be more like 10 satellites? I'm concerned ...
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1answer
156 views

Why does this satellite collision debris field look like a big “X”?

This answer to the question Whats the protocol if two satellites collide? shows the image below, and I don't understand the shape. I would have expected two "jets" of debris, each projecting roughly ...
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How far will Hayabusa-2 back off before the “bomb” goes off?

The BBC News article Hayabusa-2: Japanese probe set to 'bomb' an asteroid says: The charge is carried on the Small Carry-On Impactor (SCI) device. This is a 14kg conical container attached to ...
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1answer
237 views

How does the US's 2008 debris cloud compare to India's 2019 and China's 2007 contributions?

The NPR News article NASA: Debris From India's Anti-Satellite Test Raised Threat To Space Station discusses last week's antisatellite test by India described further in answers to India just shot down ...
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3answers
99 views

Alternative tests for A-SAT missiles

Keeping the strategic consequences of blowing up an actual satellite as technology demonstration aside, I want to assess it from a purely scientific/technological standpoint. To demonstrate the ...
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5answers
8k views

India just shot down a satellite from the ground. At what altitude range is the resulting debris field?

This tweet from India's prime minister Narendra Modi says: मेरे प्यारे देशवासियों, आज सवेरे लगभग 11.45 - 12.00 बजे मैं एक महत्वपूर्ण संदेश लेकर आप के बीच आऊँगा। I would be addressing ...
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2answers
112 views

Would communication with Houston still be possible in a LEO debris cascade?

In the film Gravity (2013), the astronauts on STS-157 & the ISS lose communications with mission control in Houston, supposedly due to the chain reaction of debris collisions taking out ...
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2answers
595 views

How do satellites remain safe from space debris and meteorites?

Since space is not that clean, always there is a chance to hit by an asteroid / meteor. So how can satellites remain safe orbiting Earth?
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81 views

Can small asteroids in the asteroid belt be detected on the fly and how much of a threat do they represent for a human manned space mission there?

Supposedly there are between 1.1 to 1.9 millions asteroids larger than 1 km in the asteroid belt. I assume there are many more , a lot of smaller ones, which cant be detected from here. According to ...
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1answer
152 views

What are the effects of orbital reflectors and advertising on scientific observation?

There's a couple of startups and initiatives which are proposing "space billboards" which have been getting a lot of bad press recently. Most of the proposals involve a bunch of cubesats with large ...
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1answer
130 views

Could shooting down space junk with a dirtside air cannon actually work?

I ran across this paper Propagation of Surface-to-LEO Vortex Rings For Orbital Debris Management by a kid working on his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering. I really want to believe that something ...
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1answer
261 views

If Oumuamua was alien space-junk, what would it look like, and would we be able tell?

I'm interested in our recent interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua. Whilst I'm happy to accept the official explanation of what it is, I'm curious about what state it would be in if it was actually alien ...
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1answer
180 views

Approximate Amount of Debris in LEO?

Considering the amount of satellites and rockets launched with second stages or other parts floating in space, approximately how many pieces of space debris would there be in low earth orbit (counting ...
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1answer
125 views

Bombing the Moon: how much debris would there be in stable orbit?

If someone had actually nuked the Moon (e.g. here or Bombing Moon and Mars: What would it look like? ), what's the probability of some debris reaching a stable orbit around the Moon? This would not ...
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54 views

Temperature indicators/labels on space debris?

There was a picture in this question about space debris on shore. Seems to be a part of a Falcon 9. The round stickers are used for temperature control. Similar labels are sold by some companies, for ...
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Wet space junk and flotsam washing up on shore, will it get worse, is there a plan to mitigate?

This comment links to this collectspace.com post: Three business executives vacationing (?) in the Bahamas came across part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 fairing that washed ashore. They shared their find ...
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6answers
533 views

How would blockchain be integrated into spaceflight? Have any methods been proposed yet?

Blockchain offers a way of keeping track of information such that its authenticity can be verified and it can not easily be falsified. In a space environment with an increasing number of both active ...
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2answers
376 views

Can objects be deorbited by a satellite using a magnetic field?

Can a magnetic field be made around a satellite for a split second to gain or loose momentum from another satellite or debris with a few passes with a near-miss trajectories on larger debris? Could a ...
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134 views

How was “toolbag-sat” imaged in space? (from Scott Manley's video)

In Scott Manley's video Could An Astronaut Throw Something From Orbit To Earth? at about 02:00 he includes a sequence of images that shows the famous tool bag that ...