The remnants from the military weather satellite which exploded in orbit last month did not become the cause of concern for any European missions close-by, according to the officials at the European Space Agency.
The U.S Air Force’s DMSP-F13 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13) broke up in precisely 43 pieces on 3rd February. Post 20 years in orbit, the satellite experienced a failure in the power system that sparked a silent space explosion.
The break-up increases a little more space junk into low-Earth orbit. Since communication satellites and Earth-gazing missions make use of the part of the space where the explosion took place, any more debris adds a potential threat to other satellites who are in orbit.
The dispersion of debris associated with DMSP-F13 event is fairly huge. But fortunately, the highest concentration of the debris lies near the original altitude of the satellite which is around 100 kilometers above ESA’s satellite concentration and 70 kilometers above the nearest satellite of ESA: CryoSat-2.
“The event is not considered major,” Holger Krag, of ESA’s Space Debris Office, said in a statement. “Should the reported number of fragments stabilize at this level, we can consider it to be within the range of the past 250 on-orbit fragmentation events.”
Nevertheless, it explains in a great manner about the reason that ESA created a Clean Space Initiative to investigate technologies which could deal with space junk. As per the agency, more than 4800 total launches have placed around 6000 satellites into orbit, of which less than a kudo are still operational today.
Which leaves 5000+ dead satellites orbiting around our planet which will collide over time, probably creating a chain reaction of collisions or decay, slowly falling back due to the gravity if they aren’t removed from the orbit.
“International regulations state that low-orbiting satellites are removed within 25 years of their mission end-of-life,” Luisa Innocenti, heading the Clean Space Initiative, said. “Either they should end up at an altitude where atmospheric drag gradually induces reentry, or alternatively be dispatched up to quieter ‘graveyard orbits.'”