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Satellite avoids collision with debris scrambled by space weather

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In its race against space weather, a satellite avoids space debris. Satellites have more drag and debris due to increased flares and flares from the sun.

(Photo: Space X)

Direct near collision

An accidental collision with space debris almost missed happened to a European spacecraft that rushed to avoid dying prematurely in Earth’s atmosphere due to bad space weather.

The satellite in the Swarm constellation which tracks the Earth’s magnetic field flew at a higher altitude after encountering increased drag due to variations in the density of the upper atmosphere caused by solar activity.

The decision, which was to increase the height of the satellite by 45 kilometers for ten weeks, had to be abandoned when mission control received a call from space junk.

Full support

The event, which happened on June 30, forced the ground control team to instantly execute an evasive maneuver to escape the debris, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). statement.

In ESA’s view, the accident highlights the unstable conditions in Earth’s orbit. With thousands of pieces large enough to kill a satellite currently known to fly around Earth, the space junk problem has only gotten worse.

Satellite operators face a double whammy as the sun enters a phase of more extreme activity, generating more sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections than it has in decades. years.

Also read: Direct hit: Earth will face a head-on collision with a solar storm

Condition in space

Satellites must pass through the thickening gas as if flying against the wind as the density of the upper atmosphere increases. Satellite operators must use onboard propulsion to prevent satellites from spiraling back to Earth.

Hugh Lewis, professor of engineering and physical sciences at the University of Southampton in the UK, and other experts predict that these same changes in air density will cause a temporary increase in the number of debris fragments in orbit low terrestrial because these fragments experience the same increased drag as the satellites. In a previous interview with Space.com, one of Europe’s top space debris specialists. These parts, unlike satellites, are uncontrollable.

Future maneuvers

According to ESA’s Swarm team, the orbit climb maneuver has finally been completed, allowing the spacecraft to operate safely for the foreseeable future.

Survive space weather

Due to instabilities in the ionosphere which can reflect, refract or absorb radio signals, Space weather affects communication between Earth and satellites. This includes radio waves from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. By generating areas of increased density, space weather can alter the density structure of the ionosphere.

In terms of economic impact, the loss of the infrastructure necessary for electricity distribution networks large enough to cover an entire continent would result from space weather. Electrical currents that once flowed through telegraph wires in the 19th century due to the geomagnetic field, interplanetary magnetic field, and solar wind can now penetrate electrical power transmission lines with potentially disastrous results.

Related Article: Experts Warn Powerful Solar Storms Can Eventually Destroy Satellites

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