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Astronomers have calculated the probability of future collisions with space garbage. / October 29, 2009 /

An astronomer from the United Kingdom estimated the probability of collisions with satellites in low Earth orbit seeking debris. The findings are presented at the European aerospace conference (European Air and Space Conference), held in Manchester. Main content of the report of the investigator leads New Scientist.

Since its launch into orbit of Sputnik PS-1 in the near space gradually accumulated debris of various vehicles, launch vehicle stages and other garbage. Over the past four years the number of such facilities has grown fourfold. Clashes with fragments of near-Earth debris pose a serious threat to satellites and spacecraft. Typically, experts have time to perform the necessary maneuvers to divergence, but on Feb. 12, 2009 over Siberia collided two satellites. This event led to the emergence of on-orbit over 500 new pieces.

The author of the new work has decided to calculate how to maximize the probability of collision with space debris in the next 50 years. For this scientist used the currently available data on the increase in the number of cases in which fragments were dangerously close to vehicles, depending on the growth of space debris. Hazards are a distance less than 5 kilometers. In addition, the astronomer took into account the current outlook for an increase in the number of objects in Earth orbit.

According to the researcher, in the next decade the frequency of dangerous approaches to garbage and vehicles will increase by almost twice. By 2059 this figure will increase fourfold. To put this prediction in absolute numbers, it turns out that in 2019 the satellites and space debris will be closer together 20 thousand times a week, and in 2059 — 50 thousand. Now the number of such events is about 13 thousand a week. The need to monitor dangerous moments and ensure that the maneuvers of evasion significantly increase the cost of space missions.

Currently, a centralized system for monitoring space debris does not exist. However, as stated in a recent report of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, in Earth orbit now, approximately 300 thousand pieces of various sizes

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