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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:{EDIT: last version was jibberish}

A few days ago, a U.S. Iridium satellite and a defunct Russian communications satellite.

This video shows the path of the debris.




Should we be investing more money in sweeping our near space of junk? Now we have a cloud of debris up there that poses a significant danger to the space station and any other manned craft, let alone the unmanned craft.

EDITED_BY: Doc Lightning (1234809343)


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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aston
aston

Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa
Member Since: 2nd Dec 2007
Total posts: 4061
Posted:Oops....

Looks like the space pollution is getting worse?


'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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Stout
Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada
Member Since: 12th May 2004
Total posts: 1872
Posted:Space Junk

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railspinner
railspinner

journeyman
Location: canada
Member Since: 8th Oct 2008
Total posts: 99
Posted:I wonder how much debris would be required to trigger a kessler syndrome, which is a theory that a big collision or a few colissions will send debris into the orbits of other satellites, which will send debris into orbits of other satellites untill the usuable orbits around the earth are so full of debris it's practically impossible to use them anymore for the next 100 years or so.

I dunno if we have enough crap up their enough to support such a chain reaction, but it's a scary thought, I don't think the world would cope to well with all our satellites out of order.


The less people know the more they believe

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Eera
old hand
Location: In a test pit, Mackay
Member Since: 29th May 2003
Total posts: 1107
Posted:There's an awful lot of nothing up there though; assuming everything's hanging around in the Clarke arbit approx 42000km from the centre of the Earth you end up with over 5 billion square km of space, so each of the 12000 objects estimated has over half a million km2 of space around it.

I can only think of 3 collisions offhand; a piece of debris smacked into a space shuttle window a few years ago, some communications sattelite or other got a fractured solar panel and this recent collision. It's going to be hard to clean it all up with so much space there, a better thing to do would be program a decreasing orbit leading to burn-up or not use it as a dumping ground in the first place. Ultimately did Roddenberry, Shoemaker and the ilk *really* have to get "buried" up there? (figures come from Wikipedia, loath as I am to use it, it's convenient)


There is a slight possibility that I am not actually right all of the time.

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railspinner
railspinner

journeyman
Location: canada
Member Since: 8th Oct 2008
Total posts: 99
Posted:Originally Posted By: EeraThere's an awful lot of nothing up there though; assuming everything's hanging around in the Clarke arbit approx 42000km from the centre of the Earth you end up with over 5 billion square km of space, so each of the 12000 objects estimated has over half a million km2 of space around it.

I can only think of 3 collisions offhand; a piece of debris smacked into a space shuttle window a few years ago, some communications sattelite or other got a fractured solar panel and this recent collision. It's going to be hard to clean it all up with so much space there, a better thing to do would be program a decreasing orbit leading to burn-up or not use it as a dumping ground in the first place. Ultimately did Roddenberry, Shoemaker and the ilk *really* have to get "buried" up there? (figures come from Wikipedia, loath as I am to use it, it's convenient)

if that is true, then how much more junk do we need to put up their untill a kessler syndrome becomes a serious risk? I find this really interesting, always wondered why some university hasn't crunched the numbers.

Another thing I found interesting is what if a nation with basic space technology decided to start lobbing shrapnel charges into orbit? How many would they have to toss up their to make space unusable? Would be a viable tactic for a underdog nation with no reliance on their own satellite technology.


The less people know the more they believe

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Originally Posted By: EeraThere's an awful lot of nothing up there though; assuming everything's hanging around in the Clarke arbit approx 42000km from the centre of the Earth you end up with over 5 billion square km of space, so each of the 12000 objects estimated has over half a million km2 of space around it.

It is finite, and at the speeds involved, it doesn't take a lot of mass to do a lot of damage. Besides, most things AREN'T in Clarke orbit. Most things are in low-Earth orbit. And there's a lot less acreage there. And now that there are two large clouds of debris, most of it too small to track, Houston we've got a problem.
Quote:
I can only think of 3 collisions offhand; a piece of debris smacked into a space shuttle window a few years ago, some communications sattelite or other got a fractured solar panel and this recent collision.

And with every collison comes a larger debris cloud leading to more collisions. It can turn into a vicious cycle.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Mynci
Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...
Member Since: 27th Apr 2005
Total posts: 8737
Posted:Who polices orbits? how high does individual nationalities airspace actually go? could a country decide they don't want a foreign satellite above them be legally allowed to lodge a protest with the U.N I can't imagine all countries under a particular orbit are asked before a space nation plonks another one up.? that would make things interesting.

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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Lev
Firedance Philosopher
Location: Vancouver BC Canada
Member Since: 19th Jan 2009
Total posts: 79
Posted:I once read that the earth would eventually have a ring of trash orbiting earth from all the trash space shuttles give off.

Of course the book also said we'd have an elevator to the moon, so be careful what you read is the moral I guess.


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aston
aston

Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa
Member Since: 2nd Dec 2007
Total posts: 4061
Posted:Elevator to the moon sounds a bit far off.

Elevator to geosynchronousstationary orbit is pretty doable. Hard maybe, but doable.

EDITED_BY: aston (1235055238)
EDIT_REASON: pedantry I was unaware of. :P


'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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Mother_Natures_Son
Mother_Natures_Son

Rampant whirler.
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!
Member Since: 1st Aug 2007
Total posts: 2418
Posted:How is it even imaginable that you could have an elevator to something that is constantly moving?

Umbilical cord moon?


hug

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railspinner
railspinner

journeyman
Location: canada
Member Since: 8th Oct 2008
Total posts: 99
Posted:geosynchronous orbit doesn't move.

well it does, but relative to a position on the earth it stays still, kind of like the elevators we already have.


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aston
aston

Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa
Member Since: 2nd Dec 2007
Total posts: 4061
Posted:I think MNS was talking about an elevator to the moon. wink

'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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Lev
Firedance Philosopher
Location: Vancouver BC Canada
Member Since: 19th Jan 2009
Total posts: 79
Posted:It did have some great concepts like electromagnetic rails with gardens along them, solar panels to replace house roofing, ect.
Mind you this book was written in the late 70's so... =]


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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:There are some sci-fi concepts here that could be put to use. However, the space junk issue is a serious one and not that easy to solve. The problem is that there are some 12,000 LARGE near-earth objects that are tracked. That doesn't even begin to include paint chips, ice flecks, bits of frozen poop from spacecraft lavatories, (no, I'm not kidding), etc.

So how do we clean it up?

The first step is pretty easy: we can de-orbit old satellites that still have maneuvering capability as long as they aren't carrying anything hazardous. I'm not sure what percent of large objects that would cover, but it would be relatively inexpensive and quick to do that. De-orbit them so that any debris will splash down in the Pacific and be done with it.

So what about large objects that can't maneuver? For example, there are a bunch of old booster stages from Apollo-era rockets in orbit and some of those are larger than city buses. One option would be to develop a sort of space-born unmanned vehicle that could attach to these things and maneuver them into the atmosphere (hopefully without destroying the drone in the process). But the sheer number of these objects makes this an either vast or lengthy process.

I have no idea what to do about the small debris.

We should also work on an international treaty to establish regulations to plan for end-of-mission de-orbiting of new satellites as an aspect of their design.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Seye
Seye

Geek
Location: Manchester, UK
Member Since: 27th Mar 2005
Total posts: 1261
Posted:Doc - Most recent satellites contain radioactive materials. Many will have both an onboard atomic clock and probably a reactor core.
That makes it very difficult to drop a lot of them out of the sky directly. Even a small loss of nuclear material (no matter how insignificant) always seems to generate enormous media interest and would, at the very least, be a PR disaster for any nation involved.

Can I also please be a pedant and state that geosynchronous orbits are not necessarily geostationary. A geosynchronous orbit is only geostationary if it has an inclination of 0 degrees (or put more simply is above the equator) and 0 eccentricity (is perfectly circular).
Othewise the satellite will appear to trace a figure 8 (or similar) across the sky. This is due to its apparent change in altitude and azimuth due (mostly) to the effect of the incline.
Geosynchronous simply means that it orbits the Earth once in exactly one average Earth day.

I love physics! grin
(and probably should get out more) frown


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hamamelis
hamamelis

nut.
Location: Bouncing off the walls.
Member Since: 5th Jan 2006
Total posts: 756
Posted:
Bit off topic, but I hate the fact that 'dropping it into the Pacific' is seen as a desirable method of disposal, for satellites or anything else- it really is about time people started to realise that using the oceans as a dump isn't really a good idea..

Just because it's out of sight and a long way from land doesn't mean it's doing no damage.


THE MEEK WILL INHERIT THE EARTH!


If that's okay with you?

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Originally Posted By: Seye
Can I also please be a pedant and state that geosynchronous orbits are not necessarily geostationary. A geosynchronous orbit is only geostationary if it has an inclination of 0 degrees (or put more simply is above the equator) and 0 eccentricity (is perfectly circular).

I didn't know there was a difference. I've always wondered why there were two words. Wow, I learned something!

Originally Posted By: hamamelis
Bit off topic, but I hate the fact that 'dropping it into the Pacific' is seen as a desirable method of disposal, for satellites or anything else- it really is about time people started to realise that using the oceans as a dump isn't really a good idea..

Well where are we going to put it, then? Actually, the deep trenches in the Pacific are the perfect place to do it. There, over a few hundred thousand years, anything dumped there will find its way into the earth's mantle. It'll get recycled in the hot magma and come out sometime later from a volcano.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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V_Regal
Lost in the Lights
Location: BC, Canada
Member Since: 16th Feb 2009
Total posts: 101
Posted:Or... dump it straight into a volcano on a small island no one's living on. :]

Risen from the Ashes
The Phoenix shall rise in his royal flaire.
FIND YOUR DESTINY.

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Mother_Natures_Son
Mother_Natures_Son

Rampant whirler.
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!
Member Since: 1st Aug 2007
Total posts: 2418
Posted:Fling it into the centre of the sun? grin

hug

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hamamelis
hamamelis

nut.
Location: Bouncing off the walls.
Member Since: 5th Jan 2006
Total posts: 756
Posted:
Given the amount of junk we're chucking up there, it would seem like a good idea to at least have a goal of being able to recover some of it.

I know a few satellites are just a tiny drop in the ocean of junk we're chucking in the seas, without actually being all that sure what the effect of some of the pollutants really is, but they're a very high profile bit of littering, and it does bug me.

Personally, I don't really have much confidence in the aim to hit deep trenches, seeing as satellites in the state they do try bring 'em down in sometimes have major steering issues, and have been known to miss the Pacific.. so hitting a mile-wide trench is maybe a tall order.


THE MEEK WILL INHERIT THE EARTH!


If that's okay with you?

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Originally Posted By: Mother_Natures_SonFling it into the centre of the sun? grin

I knew someone would bring that up. The sun could swallow the whole earth without noticing it, but the problem is that in order to get a satellite to go all the way to the Sun requires a pretty large energy input to get it out of Earth orbit. That would be prohibitively costly without a cheap, clean, and plentiful source of energy.

Originally Posted By: hamamelis
I know a few satellites are just a tiny drop in the ocean of junk we're chucking in the seas, without actually being all that sure what the effect of some of the pollutants really is, but they're a very high profile bit of littering, and it does bug me.


Most satellites are solar-powered and don't have very much dangerous stuff aboard. Anything toxic (plastics) would probably burn up during re-entry. Really, only metal and ceramics survive that kind of abuse.

The only big concern is toxic metals, including uranium/plutonium in nuclear-powered craft (why would you make a nuclear powered craft for earth orbit? That never made sense to me) and other toxics like mercury and other heavy metals.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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railspinner
railspinner

journeyman
Location: canada
Member Since: 8th Oct 2008
Total posts: 99
Posted:I think the batterys would probably be the only real thing to worry about causeing any amount of damage to the oceans. The oceans pretty big, and it's not like theirs a really huge amount of satellites comeing back down into it. Considering the amount of valuable envriomental/climate information that comes from satellites, I think crashing them into the ocean when their spent is a fair enough trade off for the understanding they help us gather of the earth and our enviromental impact on it.

Also, at the bottom of the pacifac their isn't really a lot of life to disturb, besides at volcaniv vents that support life, most of it is pretty dead. and any nasty stuff from a satellite is going to stay their and not mingle with the rest of the ocean.


The less people know the more they believe

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Originally Posted By: railspinner
Also, at the bottom of the pacifac their isn't really a lot of life to disturb, besides at volcaniv vents that support life, most of it is pretty dead. and any nasty stuff from a satellite is going to stay their and not mingle with the rest of the ocean.


There is a fair amount of life down there, actually. In fact, there is at least as much biomass on earth in the deep crust as there is on the surface.

However, the 12,000 satellites up there would not cause that much damage. The total mass is a few thousand tons. A drop in the bucket. However, future satellites should be designed in such a manner that they 1) completely burn up on re-entry and 2) do not cause pollution when they come down.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Mr Majestik
Mr Majestik

coming to a country near you
Location: home of the tiney toothy bear
Member Since: 9th Mar 2004
Total posts: 4693
Posted:Originally Posted By: Doc Lightningfuture satellites should be designed in such a manner that they 1) completely burn up on re-entry and 2) do not cause pollution when they come down.

and 3) rain chocolate and candy upon the inhabitants below grin

oh wait is this meant to be discussion umm >.>


"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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Mother_Natures_Son
Mother_Natures_Son

Rampant whirler.
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!
Member Since: 1st Aug 2007
Total posts: 2418
Posted:No, not chocolate, that would melt on re-entry. You need bacon so it will merely cook.

hug

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Mr Majestik
Mr Majestik

coming to a country near you
Location: home of the tiney toothy bear
Member Since: 9th Mar 2004
Total posts: 4693
Posted:you know right after i posted i thought that too tongue2 actually i thought bacon and chocolate so they could be fused together smile

great minds!


"but have you considered there is more to life than your eyelids?"

jointly owned by Fire_Spinning_Angel and Blu_Valley

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Mother_Natures_Son
Mother_Natures_Son

Rampant whirler.
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia!
Member Since: 1st Aug 2007
Total posts: 2418
Posted:You know what they always say, "Great bacon think a-bacon."

hug

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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:obviously, we need a vacuum cleaner tongue2

Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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willworkforfoodjnr
willworkforfoodjnr

Hunting robot foxes
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Member Since: 8th Aug 2007
Total posts: 1046
Posted:heh heh

Working hard to be a wandering hippie layabout. Ten years down, five to go!

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Lev
Firedance Philosopher
Location: Vancouver BC Canada
Member Since: 19th Jan 2009
Total posts: 79
Posted:Originally Posted By: Mother_Natures_SonNo, not chocolate, that would melt on re-entry. You need bacon so it will merely cook.
Some stay dry and others feel the pain.

...had to be said laugh3


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