o The Frog Blog: Satellite Crash

Friday, 13 February 2009

Satellite Crash


Two satellites have crashed for the first time while orbiting the Earth. The collision created two clouds of debris that are being tracked by experts. A communications satellite belonging to US company Iridium hit a disused Russian military satellite on Tuesday. The collision took place 800km above the Earth. NASA is tracking hundreds of particles of debris from the collision, and says the orbiting International Space Station (see previous blog post) faces a small risk of being struck. While this is an extremely unusual, very low-probability event, the Iridium constellation is uniquely designed to withstand such an event, and the company is taking the necessary steps to replace the lost satellite with one of its in-orbit spare satellites.

Cosmic collisions of space junk are not unheard of, but NASA officials say it is the first collision involving two intact satellites. The International Space Station does not have the ability to manoeuvre to avoid the debris.

Half Term begins today, so the Frog Blog will suspend posts for a period of 10 days. The next post will be on Monday 23rd February with the 11th Science Fact of the Week. Click here to see the previous 10 Science Facts!

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