Two Satellites Could Have Collided Recently

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It is well-known that a large amount of debris is floating around our planet. LEOLabs has observed two objects in the form of an old telescope that was operated by NASA and a military satellite that could have collided in the past days if they would maintain their trajectories. The company monitors space debris and satellites with the help of powerful radars.

The first object is IRAS, short for Infrared Astronomical Satellite. After being launched in 1983, the spacecraft aimed to create an infrared light map of the stars visible above the atmosphere but it was retired after 10 months of use. A brief reactivation took place in 1985 and it has spent the following decades floating around Earth.

GGSE-4 is even older as it reached space in 1967 as a scientific payload tied to the POPPY 5B military surveillance satellite. It was deactivated in 1972. A LEOLabs representative has stated that the two satellites should have passed within a distance of up to 30 meters of each other.

Two Satellites Could Have Collided Recently

POPPY 5B sports gravity gradient booms with a length of 18 meters. If the distance between the two objects is less than 18 meters, it is likely that one of the booms will lead to an impact.

The prediction has been updated recently, and while the potential for a possible impact appeared to be higher, the statistic chances of impact had fallen from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1,000 within a day. An impact between the two satellites would have led to the release of a large amount of shrapnel and space debris that would remain captive in orbit.

A crash on the surface of the planet was unlikely since both satellites were too high to be dragged down by the friction which takes place in the atmosphere. Some of the potential debris could have disrupted the activity of other nearby satellites. More needs to be done to tackle the issue of space junk before a dire event takes place.

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