Experts worry about accumulation of debris near the planet’s orbit
Two artifacts of space junk weighing about 2.5 tonnes just barely hit space, which could have a chain effect on Earth’s orbit. The near disaster was observed on Friday (16).
The two objects are a Soviet Parus navigation satellite, and a Chinese auxiliary rocket, which would have been launched in 2009. Neither has any method of propulsion on board, so there would be no way to divert them from each other.
Scientists at LeoLabs, a Silicon Valley, Calif. Startup that offers orbital mapping services using its own radar network, said Kosmos-2004 and the ChangZheng rocket stage were just 25 meters away. Other groups reported that the distance was greater, about 70 meters.
Because of the weight and at a relative speed of 14.66 km / s (32,800 mph), any collision would have been catastrophic and produced a rain of debris. And by the altitude of about 1,000 km, resulting fragments would have remained in orbit for an extremely long time, representing a threat to operational satellites, which could generate a chain reaction of collisions.
It turns out that the growing number of space debris in orbit, somewhere around 900,000 larger than 1 cm, all capable of causing damage or even destroying an operational spacecraft in a high-speed encounter, worries the scientists.
The online International Astronautics Congress, held last week by a group of experts, listed what it considered the 50 most abandoned objects in orbit of most concern. Most of them are from old Russian Zenit rockets, from the extinct Soviet Union.