Kessler Syndrome

Posted by: Blast

Kessler Syndrome - 10/15/20 11:19 PM

It's been known for a long time that there's a lot of junk in orbit. If two big pieces hit even more junk is created, all traveling at extremely high speeds. Back in 1978 the NASA scientist Donald Kessler started pointing this problem out and how it could eventually render certain popular orbit uninhabitable by satellites.

On Oct. 16th, 2020 two large pieces of space debris with a combined weight of over 6,000 lbs have (at latest calculation) a 20% of colliding. Close calls like this apparently happen several times a year. A hit wouldn't immediately result in other satellites being destroyed. The effects would be gradual at first but then accelerate as impacts released more and more debris. Normally I'm a big fan of exponential explosions but this sort of cascade could cause far-reaching technological issues. Perhaps Elon Musk should spend some time cleaning up space in addition to launching more stuff.

Anyway, just something else for y'all to think about.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/16/20 01:53 AM

Nobody is responsible for satellites that are out of maneuvering fuel, or uncontrolled. Nobody is responsible for the debris. Until that changes, this is likely to get worse instead of better.
Posted by: brandtb

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/16/20 02:19 AM

Space junk graphic -
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/16/20 04:16 AM

It's the Tragedy of the Commons being played out in space.
Posted by: unimogbert

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/16/20 01:43 PM

International convention has it that satellite operators are supposed to use their final fuel to boost their satellite much further out so as to preserve the high-value geo-synchronous orbits.

Of course if your satellite has had a failure that makes it unresponsive or unmaneuverable then it's hazardous junk.
Posted by: KenK

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/19/20 12:06 AM

I thought Andy Taylor - or somebody like that - was going up there to collect some of that junk. I think I saw a documentary on that a long time ago.
Posted by: unimogbert

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/19/20 03:14 PM

If you google 'space debris' you can find several articles about organizations that claim to be developing space vehicles to do cleanup.

Remains to be seen if it will actually happen.
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Kessler Syndrome - 10/19/20 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: unimogbert
Remains to be seen if it will actually happen.
Just don't be holding your breath