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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1 answer
333 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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6 votes
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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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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 ...
39 votes
2 answers
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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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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/...
2 votes
1 answer
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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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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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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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
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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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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://celestrak.org/NORAD/elements/starlink.txt contains 64 ...
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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 ...
1 vote
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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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
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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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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 ...
1 vote
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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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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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2 answers
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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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2 answers
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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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
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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 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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3 answers
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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 ...
34 votes
5 answers
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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 the nation at ...
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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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2 answers
2k 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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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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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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4 votes
1 answer
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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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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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
250 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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1 answer
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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 ...
1 vote
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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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7 answers
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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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2 votes
2 answers
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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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3 votes
1 answer
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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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1 vote
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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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8 votes
1 answer
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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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25 votes
4 answers
14k views

Is Nibiru real or totally science fiction?

I have seen lots of YouTube videos taking 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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3 answers
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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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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, Earth's ...
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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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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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1 answer
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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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How are meteoroids, asteroids and debris in space tracked?

How far, small, and fast can meteors be detected?
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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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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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1 answer
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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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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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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 ...