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what_happens_to_dead_satellites_orbiting_the_earth 2009/02/02 13:19 current
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 +**What happens to all the satellites and other pieces of technology that are
 +left in space? Do they continue to orbit our plant, disintegrate or are
 + broken into small pieces, fall to or collide with other planets, or What?
 + Is this a problem to be considered in this millennium?**
 +The problem of space debris is a serious one. In the past, old
 +satellites, pieces of rockets, and astronaut trash were left in Earth
 +orbit. Things near the earth (within a few hundred miles) re-enter the
 +atmosphere fairly quickly (within a few years) because there is still a
 +little air to slow them down at these low orbits.
 +However, things in higher orbit remain in orbit forever. Anything with
 +motors on them tend to explode eventually, creating swarms on tiny debris.
 +Even dust from meteors can hit satellites, knocking off chips of paint.
 +Even a fleck of paint can do serious damage at 17,000 miles per hour!
 +These days, satellite manufacturers are becoming more conscious about
 +de-orbiting satellites when they are finished being used. The best
 +examples are the Iridium satellites, a series of satellites belonging to a
 +failed communications company. Rather than stranding the satellites in
 +space, Iridium and their partners are spending several million dollars to
 +de-orbit the satellites.
 +Problems still exist with existing trash, and various schemes have been
 +developed for finding ways to clean up space. In the meantime, radar is
 +used to locate larger pieces of space junk (sizes of nuts and bolts or
 +larger). The space shuttle must routinely make orbital corrections to
 +avoid such junk. The International Space Station recently announced that
 +the shielding on the newest Russian module is too thin, and that the
 +module has a 25% chance of being punctured by space debris during the life
 +of the space station. So, space trash is still a serious concern!
 +Thanks for writing!
 +Kurtis Williams
what_happens_to_dead_satellites_orbiting_the_earth.txt · Last modified: 2009/02/02 13:19 by czars · [Old revisions]