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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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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
102 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
182 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
91 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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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
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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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218 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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1answer
53 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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86 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
121 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
229 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
155 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
115 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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0answers
51 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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118 views

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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4answers
320 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
202 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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0answers
126 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 ...
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60 views

Explosion at the launch pad and safe distance from it

As the rocket explodes at the launch pad, heat wave, sound wave and debris spread around the launch pad. So in case How the safe zone is determined in the case of explosion of the rocket at launch ...
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1answer
1k views

Debris breaking away from Electron rocket [duplicate]

In this youtube video of Rocket Lab's Electron rocket launch we can see some debris breaking from the rocket. Besides the ice, there seems to be some sort of a black square-ish structure to the left ...
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4answers
13k views

Is Nibiru real or totally science fiction?

I have seen lots of YouTube videos stating about Nibiru. They say, that Nibiru is approaching towards earth. Few of the videos claim, that space maps (Google) hide Nibiru with a black patch. Few years ...
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What is optimum data interval algorithm for Orbit Determination?

I am trying to find Optimum data interval algorithm for orbit determination. Because in Leo, Geo orbit updates the measurement data can be different so that I want to implement an optimum data ...
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3answers
251 views

How would a laser “shoot down” space junk?

This question links to an article describing a ground-based laser designed for shooting down orbiting space debris: "The scientists intend to use the massive soon-to-be-built telescope at the Altay ...
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1answer
386 views

Propagation of pressure waves in Low Earth orbit

So in a Wikipedia article about space debris i read that---- At higher altitudes, where air drag is less significant, orbital decay takes longer. Slight atmospheric drag, lunar perturbations, ...
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4answers
4k views

What would be the first noticeable consequences to the general public of widespread satellite destruction?

What would most likely be the first thing I, as an average citizen of a developed nation, notice, if within a matter of hours, all major commercial and government satellites were to be destroyed in a ...
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2answers
280 views

Is there a database for space junk beyond Earth orbit, and is Roadster in it?

After a bit of low drama I've come to accept that Roadster is space junk and agree with this answer. After reading this answer about space junk in orbit around Earth, I'd like to ask if there is a ...
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1answer
3k views

What is the biggest piece of space junk?

What is the biggest of space junk in orbit? What was it used for and is there a picture? Source: Wikipedia
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1answer
94 views

How are meteoroids, asteroids and debris in space tracked?

How far, small, and fast can meteors be detected?
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0answers
83 views

What information exactly was necessary to determine and announce this “debris causing event”?

A 1:53 PM - 19 Jul 2016 tweet from the twitter account @18SPCS said: 19 Jul: JSpOC ID’d debris causing event related to @DigitalGlobe WorldView-2; 8 debris pieces but WV2 confirmed operational &...
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2answers
387 views

Harpooning satellites? Is this really the best way to get them under control?

above: GIF from Polular Mechanics which has been kindly modified here to be under 2 MiB. Harpoons are effective when the target is out of reach, or moving too quickly to catch. Neither is generally ...
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1answer
126 views

Are certain altitudes reserved for an orbit direction to limit the possibility of collision?

Are certain altitudes above Earth reserved (or commonly selected) to limit possibility of collision between objects travelling in prograde, retrograde and polar orbits? Like a one way street, if ...
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2answers
380 views

Is there any regulation against sending stuff to space that you don't need there, like the Tesla roadster?

Is there any regulation (or self-regulation) that would force space explorers to create as little debris as possible? The Tesla roadster in space seems to be only a PR-gag.
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197 views

Is docking satelites an option?

If we dock satellites together we can then have big satellite stations on different orbits that will be serviceable. Is this possible, and what are some implications of doing so? For example, can ...
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6answers
25k views

Is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy payload (a Tesla car) space junk?

Yesterday SpaceX succeeded in the first Falcon Heavy launch, but the payload, a Tesla car has no real useful purpose (except for company prestige). Thus, can it be considered as space junk ? How long ...
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1answer
809 views

is space-track.org a free service?

Is the website space-track.org a free service ? If not can someone give other free website to track space debris.
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1answer
99 views

If a cube or micro satellite could collect 1-2 cm space debris in Earth orbit could they be deorbited while raising the sats orbit?

A lot of space debris on LEO are small 1 to 2 cm pieces. Removing these threats is a concern to anyone using LEO. Can a cube/micro satellite use collected small debris and propel them to both ...
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1answer
152 views

What are the white dots traveling fast in this video?

In this impressive video, between 40s and one minute, one can see white "dots" traveling very fast. What are these? My guess is that the separation with the payload is done thanks to pyrotechnic ...
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1answer
525 views

What will J002E3 be like on its return?

J002E3 is believed to be the S-IVB third stage of the Apollo 12 rocket. It is expected to return to temporary Earth orbit in the 2040's. If some enterprising soul decided to build a rocket capable ...
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1answer
630 views

What's this chunk that fell off Falcon 9 second stage?

Just after T+3 minutes during today's SES-11 launch I noticed a small chunk fall off the end of a "boom" on the Falcon 9 second stage. What's the boom and what came ...
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1answer
137 views

How long does the upper stage stay in orbit if the payload is released on GTO?

A launcher upper stage may not stay in orbit for long, as it does not need to go as high as the payload and thus travel at an altitude at which although it is thin, the atmosphere is still dense ...
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2answers
151 views

Would laser and beamed energy anti satellite weapons cause much space debris?

Laser and other beamed energy weapons, in orbit or from Earth, could potentially make their targets malfunction from overheating and perhaps even partial melting. Would this be a way of space warfare ...
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2answers
328 views

ISS impacts by space debris

Is there something that tracks the locations of space debris impacts, and how big the debris or damage is?
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2answers
243 views

Solar sail and debris shielding

If a space craft is to travel at 0.6 c, how must one design a protection system such that any and all debris collisions with the sail do not render it damaged for further use? Is it possible to employ ...
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3answers
473 views

What is the typical relative impact velocity of orbital debris in low Earth orbit?

We all know that space is about going really fast. We also know that what matters in a collision isn't really absolute speed, but relative velocity. (Two cars with matched speeds on a highway touching ...
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0answers
329 views

How can a paint fleck make a window bullseye?

This answer repeats the fact that something as small as a few micrometers in diameter can make a visible bullseye in a window in orbit. I heard it with respect to the space shuttle, and now they have ...
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4answers
10k views

Why would a box full of 1cm balls released into LEO be so scary to an engineer supporting the ISS? - (Updated)

update March 2018: I just saw this in Buzzfeed (Google sent me there, I don't normally read it): Rich People Will Soon Be Able To Buy Fake Meteor Showers On Demand. It seems this might happen in 2018. ...
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1answer
249 views

Master thesis - new research topics [closed]

I am studying Aerospace master and currently on the brim to pursue my master thesis. I would like our input on the new research trends that are going on in the space industry. I would like to do some ...
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2answers
136 views

How much of an issue is space junk going to be for future manned mars missions?

As far as I understand, a manned mission to mars would require an unprecedented amount of equipment, most of which would have to be pre-staged in LEO. How is space junk going to affect this? The ISS ...
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1answer
362 views

Why are deorbited satellites allowed a slow orbit decay instead of burning them up rapidly?

In "What are the conditions for re-entry of an object in a (highly) elliptical orbit?" Eerie asks about orbital mechanics of orbital decay of decommissioned satellite: starting with extremely ...