There is always a wealth of bows in the graph Looking at the tool, there is always a wealth of bows in the graph. When the arch is extremely stretched, two objects had particularly close contact. And some come in a few minutes terrifyingly close. By the time I wrote this story, it was only 60 yards that came closest to two objects. Each sheet is also color-coded and indicates which types of objects are approaching. Green bows mark two operational satellites that could potentially clear each other out of the way. yellow arcs indicate a mobile satellite and a non-maneuverable object; red bows indicate two dead objects that have no choice but to continue their potential crash course. There are many red bows in my diagram.
The visualization is the work of Moriba Jah, an associate professor at the University of Texas who specializes in the tracking of orbital waste. He said the purpose of the tool is to show that objects, despite the expanse of space around the Earth, are constantly passing each other. "Things are crossing at a very high speed," says Jah
The Verge noting that some of these objects move 15 times as fast as a sphere. "These things are very, very fast and definitely come very close. People need to be aware of that.
Jah's visualization relies on orbital data collected by the United States Air Force, which is responsible for maintaining an extensive catalog of space objects circulating on Earth. He noted that the graph shows only predictions based on this data and that the positions of the objects may differ slightly. It is also important to remember that most of these satellites are relatively small as these things approach
. "That's why there are not many actual collisions," says Jah. "Even though things are within [a couple hundred] meters, the actual size of the objects is much, much smaller."
"Things intersect at very high speed."
To avoid possible collisions in space, The Air Force warns the satellite operators when their spacecraft encounters something and notifies them when the likelihood of a collision is high. If possible, operators push their satellites out of the way to avoid possible repercussions. It's a process that happens all the time, usually without much fanfare. Currently, satellite collisions in space are extremely rare. The most prominent crash in orbit occurred in 2009, when an iridium communications satellite collided with a dead Russian satellite.
But this one collision showed what satellites are all about. The accident caused thousands of pieces of debris in orbit, which then constituted their own threats to other functioning spaceships.
Experts fear that such an incident could occur more frequently in the future. There are currently around 2,000 satellites in orbit and more than 22,000 debris are being actively pursued by the US Air Force. The number of satellites in a near-Earth orbit, however, is expected to increase significantly, especially as private companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon will fill the earth's orbit with thousands of spacecraft to transfer the Internet coverage to the planet below. Already, one of the SpaceX satellites came too close to a satellite operated by the European Space Agency, causing European officials to evacuate their vehicle.
"See how close these things come."
A A NASA study estimates that virtually all satellites in these mega-constellations must be safely removed from orbit every five years, otherwise the collision risk increases exponentially. With Jah's tool, it is clear that Earth orbit is already full, which means that controlling all incoming space travel is crucial if we want to keep space clean.
"This can not be interpreted as" Wow "all these collisions. "No," says Jah. "But look how close these things are. And this traffic will simply increase. So the bottom line is that there is definitely an increased risk of collision with the increasing traffic that is close to each other. "