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Space

Possible Collision Between Cube-satellite and Old Space Junk 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the shades-of-kessler dept.
photonic writes "The BBC is reporting on a possible collision between Ecuador's first satellite (a small cubesat) and debris from an upper stage of an old Russian rocket. If confirmed, this might be the third case in recent years, after a high-speed collision of an Iridium satellite with a dead Russian satellite in 2009 and a collision earlier this year between a Russian laser reflector (which can be tracked very accurately) and a tiny piece of a debris from a Chinese weather satellite that was destroyed in a missile test."
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Possible Collision Between Cube-satellite and Old Space Junk

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:36AM (#43811721)

    I guess it was only a matter of time before Planetes [wikipedia.org] became relevant.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if someone who watches /. but also monitors torrent/nzb index searchers, ever sees a correlation. Or if people who run indexes just think, "weird, lots of people suddenly searching for 'planetes' today. WTF?" and they never know why? Anyway, downloading the first few episodes right now...

  • Goody, so now there is more random trash in orbit just waiting to smoke other satellites.
    • Not really. Same amount of mass up there as there was before. The utility of the satellite was low to begin with. Its whole purpose was to allow their politicians to say Ecuador has a space program. They can continue to do that as long as the satellite is in orbit. Not like they need those pictures or music.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        If it has been broken into several pieces, or had any material chipped off of it, then the problem has gotten worse following this incident. If all of the orbitting mass was in one convenient lump, it would be easy to avoid.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      There was a Glad trash bag advertisement back in the 80's where astronauts were spacewalking to bag up floating space junk. I remember one part where the voiceover goes "...and even the neighbors' bulky junk" while the astronaut puts a comically-oversize bolt with the hammer & sickle stamped on the end into the Glad bag.

      Whenever these stories appear I'm reminded of that commercial. Even moreso when two of the three examples of collisions are caused by Russian debris. I've been unsuccessful in locating i

  • Kessler Syndrome (Score:5, Informative)

    by invid (163714) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:36AM (#43811733) Homepage
    I think it has started. [wikipedia.org]
    • I was thinking the same thing but didn't know the proper name for it.
    • Here's [therpgsite.com] a better version.

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • Re:Kessler Syndrome (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:52AM (#43811879)

      Surely it's not Kessler syndrome until you have debris from one collision causing a further collision? In each of the incidents described above, an existing piece of debris not originating in a collision was the cause of the incident.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Surely it's not Kessler syndrome until you have debris from one collision causing a further collision?

        Well, if the missile impact (a collision) with the Chinese satellite caused an impact with the Russian reflector, you could argue we've already seen that.

        I find it hard to argue that the debris from the Chinese satellite wasn't from a collision -- it was just a planned one (and possibly a very dumb idea in the first place).

        • Re:Kessler Syndrome (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sockatume (732728) on Friday May 24, 2013 @10:15AM (#43812079)

          Kessler syndrome is a self-sustaining chain reaction, I really don't think that deliberate collisions count towards it.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Not suggesting we're there yet, but we're moving there. Obviously we haven't reached some self-sustaining chain reaction yet.

            Deliberate or not, this is having the effect of the debris from collisions causing more collisions. If it gets worse or we don't find a way to deal with it, we might end up there.

            • by Sockatume (732728)

              It's not even a chain reaction yet, much less a self-sustaining one. When a piece of debris from a spontaneous collision causes another collision, then we'll have the first chain reaction event relevant to Kessler syndrom.

      • by invid (163714)
        It's not Kessler Syndrome yet, but we are moving toward a situation where it can start.
      • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:19AM (#43812933) Homepage Journal

        Surely it's not Kessler syndrome until you have debris from one collision causing a further collision? In each of the incidents described above, an existing piece of debris not originating in a collision was the cause of the incident.

        Surely it's not the Kessler syndrome until someone makes the run in less than 12 parsecs... or am I missing something?

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Thus far. But the number of unintentional collisions have increased significantly these past few years. And the number of maneuvers needed to avoid debris have also increased recently. Even the ISS had a hole punched in one of its solar panels recently by debris.

        It'll only be a matter of time.

  • From the article: "The US-based Joint Space Operations Center, which monitors all artificial Earth-orbiting objects, said there had been no direct crash but that their "data indicated a lateral collision with particles" of the Soviet rocket."

    This is about all the confirmation you can ever hope for in a situation like this.

  • http://geeksoulbrother.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/SpaceballMaid.jpg

  • The Ecuadorian Satellite was very criticized here in Ecuador it is sad that this happened. While a lot of people on Ecuador make fun of the satellite, I see it a like a positive first step of this country into space.
    • Yep. Space technology is a resource. In fact, space tech is the ONLY technology that's capable of preventing the extinction of the Human Race. When it comes time to get some of our eggs out of this one basket, you're going to need some space savvy to ensure a few of them are Ecuadorian.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Space tech is the ONLY technology that's capable of preventing the extinction of the "Human Race"? Uhm. I heard a phrase once. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. If we're dumb enough for long enough we'll learn to live better on this planet, probably before we cause our own *total* annihilation. You obviously have zero confidence that there's any chance that we will survive for long enough to evolve away from our selfish, destructive behaviors. I hate to say it but, even Global Thermonuclear War wouldn

        • by khallow (566160)
          Why do people think the answer to such big problems is "learning"? What can we "learn" that will prevent AGW, for example, without actually having to do any further work?

          And to be honest, I damn well hope we get it right on this marble before we start polluting everywhere else like the virus that we resemble.

          What incentive is there to "get it right"? Earth is an easy place to live. Space is not. Space has the incentives to get things right that you feel we need.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...should really pickup after themselves!

  • Unless, of course, the Ecuadorean satellite's mission was to collect and sterilize soil samples from other planets.

  • Good. As always in our Universe, things tend to converge to a certain equilibrium. There are more and more satellites in the upper sky, thus the probability of a collision increases exponentially. Collision => less satellites.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Collision leads to more objects, not less, due to fragmentation.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        A salient lesson that not everything proceeds towards equilibrium, and even then, the equilibria reached are not necessarily desirable.

    • by eyenot (102141)

      If by equilibrium you mean a higher state of entropy, then yes.

      You are, however, sadly mistaken in your assumption that having passed a critical mass of orbiting objects means they will suddenly start rapidly falling out of the sky.

      On the contrary, what will happen now is the present objects will become more and more likely to have collisions as more and more collisions occur, in a cascade effect.

      Eventually there will be a more or less impenetrable field of small debris flying around, and no opportunity to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:01AM (#43812691)

    "Pegasus, a small cube weighing just 1.2kg (2.6lb), has been orbiting the Earth at a height of 650km (404 miles), transmitting pictures from space while playing recordings of the Ecuadorean national anthem."

    Maybe all the other satellites in orbit were getting annoyed by this little guy and took him out.

    • I'm probably just being daft, but wouldn't it be technically impossible to play music from a sattelite? Space being a vacuum and all?

      • Think of it like Sputnik. It beams the anthem over and over to anyone who knows what frequency to listen on.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it's all a huge conspiracy against the equatorians for supporting assange

    (hey, KGB guys, i am just flamebaiting, dont come to my house, please)

  • Seriously, people pay money for these instruments of fail?

  • by flayzernax (1060680) on Friday May 24, 2013 @12:15PM (#43813709)

    Geico. Space Insurance.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Shhhhhh! Don't give them any ideas.

      That's the next thing that will happen. Hobbyists and schools unable to experiment with those micro-satellites because suddenly you're required to get insurance for your satellite -- in case it goes off-orbit or otherwise and ends up damaging some expensive telecom satellite.

  • collision between Ecuador's first satellite (a small cubesat) and debris from an upper stage of an old Russian rocket.

    Borg cube assimilates space junk. Resistance is futile.

  • Maybe shooting up a bunch of small unmaneuverable satellites wasn't such a good idea, it just makes the space junk problem worse.

  • In the distant future, when some space-faring race comes across this planetary system, they might wonder why this dessert planet will be surrounded by rings of particles consisting mostly of lightweight metals, plastic bits, fiberglass, silicon, etc.

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