Sunday, April 22, 2012

Space Debris: The Sky is Falling

"Space Debris: The Sky is Falling"," The object continues to get bigger as it approaches overhead. You look around only to find a light piece of charred metal, about the size of your hand. The metal mesh-like fragment which hit him came from a rocket that had been used to put a satellite into orbit for the U. S Air Force in 1996. The fragment which hit Williams on the shoulder came from that particular fuel tank. An average of one space object reenters the Earth's atmosphere every day and this number is likely to increase. By 1966, the number of objects tracked had risen to over 1,300. Of these objects, approximately 23% are inactive satellites, 10% are burned out rocket stages, 62% are fragments, and only 5% are active satellites. Granted, some of today's newer satellites have propulsion systems designed to keep them in proper orbit or at least direct them to a safer reentry point if needed. Most of these objects will burn up on reentry and completely disintegrate. High-altitude samples later indicated a worldwide release of radiation. On July 11, 1979, the 77-ton Skylab space station, despite efforts by NASA, left orbit and re-entered over a large footprint encompassing parts of Australia and the Indian Ocean. Nobody was injured. It was the largest man-made object to ever reenter Earth's atmosphere. The debris footprint of over 300,000 square miles was well removed from all shipping lanes and populated areas. On February 7, 1991, the 40-ton Soviet Salyut 7 space station deteriorated over South America, creating an impressive light show for Argentina. At approximately 1:00 a. m local time the sky was lit up with hundreds of incandescent chunks and pieces traveling from Southwest to Northeast. Fortunately, there was no loss of life or property damage. On January 24, 1978, Cosmos 954, a nuclear powered Soviet satellite used for maritime observation, reentered over northern Canada. Over 60 radioactive sites were identified. The debris was scattered over a 2,500 mile ellipse which extended from the southeastern tip of Hawaii to the northwestern coast of South America. In November of 1964, over 40 fragments from a U. S Augean-Atlas rocket fell onto Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Peru. reentry news. In any event, keep an eye out above. . catch it here  

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