Blowing up stuff in space

Started by Alberon, November 22, 2021, 05:11:45 PM

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Alberon

Russia and the US are in the news this week over deliberatly smashing things into other things in space, but for very different reasons.

Russia has been widely condemned for carrying out a test where a ground launched missile blew up a disused satellite in orbit.

QuoteThe satellite, it turned out, was a Soviet machine from the 1980s. Russia had decided to blow it up in a test of the country's anti-satellite technology. When the missile strike destroyed the satellite, the impact produced more than 1,500 fragments large enough to be tracked with military resources, and likely hundreds of thousands more too small to detect.

While the chance of impact was low, the potential effect was so dangerous that the astronauts in the International Space Station had to retreat to the docked space capsules for two hours.

There's a lot of space junk out in Earth orbit, long dead satellites and bits and pieces of them and from rocket launches. There is a real risk that an explosion could cause follow-on impacts leading to whole parts of the orbits around Earth unusuable.

So Russia deliberatly adding to it didn't win them any friends. In the past the US, China and India have carried out similar tests.

Meanwhile the US is launching a satellite on Wednesday who's mission is to slam into an asteroid and see what effect it has on it.

NASA's target is a small rock in orbit around another asteroid.



QuoteThe 610kg Dart spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at about 6.21am UK time on Wednesday. Its target is the Didymos system – a harmless pair of asteroids consisting of a 163-metre "moonlet" asteroid called Dimorphos that orbits a larger 780-metre asteroid called Didymos – after the Greek for "twin").

As they orbit the sun, these asteroids occasionally pass relatively close to Earth. The plan is to crash the spacecraft into Dimorphos when the asteroid system is at its closest – about 6.8m miles away – some time between 26 September and 1 October 2022.

The greater goal is to get a better understanding of deflecting asteroids ahead of the time that one is detected heading our way.


JesusAndYourBush

Yeah space junk is a problem which is only getting worse.  Besos or Musk (sit down, Branson) needs to do something useful and invent something that'll go around sweeping up the debris.  Not sure how they'd do it, but a proportion of it must be magnetic so something with a big magnet would collect a lot of the smaller pieces then they could be flung towards the earth where they'd burn up harmlessly.

Dr Rock

How come sound can't travel in a vacuum but light can? Pull up your socks sound you loser.

Butchers Blind

Quote from: JesusAndYourBush on November 22, 2021, 05:26:42 PMYeah space junk is a problem which is only getting worse.  Besos or Musk (sit down, Branson) needs to do something useful and invent something that'll go around sweeping up the debris.  Not sure how they'd do it, but a proportion of it must be magnetic so something with a big magnet would collect a lot of the smaller pieces then they could be flung towards the earth where they'd burn up harmlessly.

Could you use a giant vacuum in a vacuum and suck it up?

Ignatius_S

Quote from: JesusAndYourBush on November 22, 2021, 05:26:42 PMYeah space junk is a problem which is only getting worse.  Besos or Musk (sit down, Branson) needs to do something useful and invent something that'll go around sweeping up the debris.  Not sure how they'd do it, but a proportion of it must be magnetic so something with a big magnet would collect a lot of the smaller pieces then they could be flung towards the earth where they'd burn up harmlessly.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's startup, Privateer is studying space debris: https://www.space.com/steve-wozniak-privateer-hundreds-satellites-space-debris

JesusAndYourBush

Quote from: Ignatius_S on November 22, 2021, 05:41:55 PMApple co-founder Steve Wozniak's startup, Privateer is studying space debris: https://www.space.com/steve-wozniak-privateer-hundreds-satellites-space-debris

"Steve Wozniak's startup Privateer plans to launch hundreds of satellites..."

Oh.

And I'd forgotten about Starlink.  It's shit like that that's only making the problem worse.

Ignatius_S

Quote from: JesusAndYourBush on November 22, 2021, 05:47:22 PM"Steve Wozniak's startup Privateer plans to launch hundreds of satellites..."

Oh.

And I'd forgotten about Starlink.  It's shit like that that's only making the problem worse.

Yes, the irony has been noted! Although I suppose that we'll have to see what exactly they have in store.

Re: Starlink - there are some claims that what they do isn't that bad, but articles like this don't inspire a huge amount of confidence: https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-satellite-collision-alerts-on-the-rise

mothman

Ablation cascade, it's sometimes called. Everything crashing into everything else and breaking up until the whole planet is surrounded by a debris field and anything launched into space might as well be a clay pigeon. And don't count on any of the tech bros planning to do anything about it - if anything, they're counting on it: to get the fuck out of dodge before it happens, and the cascade being a metaphorical drawbridge they're pulling up after themselves to ensure nobody else can follow them...

imitationleather

Quote from: Butchers Blind on November 22, 2021, 05:38:02 PMCould you use a giant vacuum in a vacuum and suck it up?

"In space? Suck it up?"

"Yeah and then ask for some money for it."

"Yeah... I could do that."

"Why not do that tomorrow?"

"Alright. I mean, it's a bit demeani-"

"Good!"

Johnny Foreigner

Geostationary satellites orbit at around 35,000km, at which altitude they are quite safe; it is the low earth orbits that are becoming cluttered. Space stations (the late Mir and now the ISS), orbiting at a few hundred miles at most, have already been impacted by specks of paint, bolts and even screwdrivers that are floating around up there.

On the plus side: we may expect a great increase in spontaneous meteors as the orbits of the debris degenerate and all the junk starts burning up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.