Home » News & Blogs » When Satellites Collide
Bookmark and Share
Twisted Physics

When Satellites Collide

12 Feb 2009, 22:34 UTC
When Satellites Collide
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The big space news this week is the unprecedented collision of two major satellites in orbit: Cosmos 2251, a long-defunct Russian communications satellite, and an Iridium satellite, one of several communications satellites launched by Motorola in the late 1990s/early 2000s....The big space news this week is the unprecedented collision of two major satellites in orbit: Cosmos 2251, a long-defunct Russian communications satellite, and an Iridium satellite, one of several communications satellites launched by Motorola in the late 1990s/early 2000s. There have been occasional accidental collisions among smaller bits of space debris before, but this is the first time two large objects have collided, producing a cloud of wreckage. (Phil Plait has a nice analysis of the math behind the collision here and here.)The debris is expected to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere -- eventually. The question is, will that happen before some bit of debris collides with, say, another military or civilian satellite, or even the International Space Station? This is not a new problem. Many years ago, while chatting with a few space scientists about
various missions, I innocently asked, "So, how do we get all that stuff
back down again once we're done with it?" The answer ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod