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Representation of a satellite being destroyed by collision with orbital debris (Image: ESA)
Projected amount of orbital debris resulting from the Kessler Syndrome if spaceflight is stopped for the next 200 years (Image: NASA)
Trackable (>4 in. or 10 cm) orbital debris in orbit around Earth. Largest ring are satellites in geosynchronous orbit (Image: NASA)
Known orbital planes of Fengyun-1C debris one month after its disintegration by a Chinese interceptor. The white orbit represents the International Space Station (Image: NASA)
Trackable (>4 in or 10 cm) orbital debris in near-Earth orbits (Image: NASA)
The Long Duration Exposure Facility in orbit over the Florida Peninsula. Its purpose was to determine the effects of long-term exposure to space, including orbital debris, on a range of materials (Photo: NASA)
Dispersing orbital debris from the Iridium-33 - Cosmos 2251 collision up to a year following impact (Image: NASA)
Hypervelocity impact damage (Photo: NASA)
DebriSat will have a structure as close to that of a functional modern satellite as possible (Photo: Mark Werremeyer and University of Florida)
Orbital debris is (nearly) forever, and threatens to render near-Earth space unusable, and all but impassible. The 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test and an accidental collision between two communications satellites in 2009 highlighted the need to study orbital collisions of modern satellites. The NASA Standard Breakup Model, based on hypervelocity collision studies of 1960s-era satellites, fails to accurately describe collisions of modern satellites, owing to advances made in materials and construction. To address this problem, NASA is updating the SBM by building and destroying a modern dummy satellite called DebriSat.
Read the full article: Space debris: Where does it come from, and what can we do about it?
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