Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Satellites to be "Sandblasted" by Leonids
Washington DC - June 10, 1998 - Dr. William H. "Bill" Ailor of The Aerospace Corporation told a congressional subcommittee in Washington May 21 that the estimated 500 satellites on orbit "will be sandblasted" by the Leonid meteoroid storm due November 17. But he said the effects on spacecraft are expected to be minimal, despite the fact the storm "will be the largest such threat ever experienced by our critical orbiting satellite constellations."

Ailor, director of the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies established last year at The Aerospace Corporation, presented his testimony during a hearing titled "Asteroids: Perils and Opportunities." He was invited to appear before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, a panel of the House Committee on Science, by U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), subcommittee chair.

"It is possible," Ailor told the subcommittee, "that some satellites will be damaged, but the most likely source of damage will not be from a rock blasting a hole in a satellite, but rather, from the creation of a plasma, or free electric charge on the spacecraft. The charge could cause damage to computers and other sensitive electronic circuits on board the spacecraft, and ultimately cause the spacecraft to fail. For example," Ailor said, "during the 1993 Perseid meteor shower, it was determined that the Olympus communications satellite was damaged by a meteor strike and went off the air shortly thereafter as a result of an electrical failure."

Ailor pointed out that, "The latest information on the coming Leonid meteoroid storm was presented at the Leonid Meteoroid Storm and Satellite Threat Conference sponsored by Aerospace and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Manhattan Beach, California, on April 27 and 28.

"The primary recommendations from the conference," Ailor reported, "were that, while it is very unlikely that the storm will have any major effect on satellites, the 'A-team' of controllers should be on duty during the ... storm, and operators should check the state of health of their satellites frequently, looking primarily for electrical anomalies and glitches. It was also recommended that, if possible, satellites be oriented so that sensitive components are shielded from the oncoming stream of particles, and that recovery plans be in place should there be a spacecraft system failure during the storm."

Ailor said Aerospace collected information on spacecraft anomalies experienced during the 1997 Leonid shower and will be collecting similar information for the 1998 and 1999 events. "This information will help us plan for the 1999 Leonid and future meteoroid storms. It may also help us to understand whether additional safeguards against the meteoroid impact threat should be included in future spacecraft designs," Ailor said.

  • Leonid Conference - Presented by The Aerospace Corporation



    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once


    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly


    paypal only






    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.