by Staff Writers
Washington DC (Sputnik) Mar 03, 2015
The US Navy confirmed an unexplainable satellite explosion filled Earth's orbit with potentially dangerous debris.
The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) experienced "a sudden temperature spike" on February 3, but only on February 26 the loss of the apparatus was officially confirmed.
The explosion has filled the planet's orbit with 43 pieces of space debris posing potential danger for satellites with the intersecting trajectories.
The US navy claimed that the situation is under control and said they would raise a warning if a threat of a real collision was imminent. It will take millions of years for the debris to be pulled by planet's gravity from its place over 22,000 miles(36000km) above the surface.
The exploded satellite was the oldest active US Navy weather satellite, launched in 1995. It was transitioned to a backup role in 2006, as currently there are 6 other DMSPs operating on the orbit. The impact of the loss of the DMSP-F13 is reported to be "minimal".
The space debris is extremely dangerous as its pieces traveling at 4 miles (7 km) per second have immense destructive capabilities. For example, a one third of an inch (1 cm) piece at such speed packs the same punch as a Harley Davidson going 60mph(96kph). With every collision the cloud grows and becomes more dangerous.
Most satellites and the ISS are able to adjust their trajectories to avoid the space debris, but one mistake could have catastrophic consequences.
Currently there are over 21,000 pieces of space trash larger than 4 inches(10 cm) and half a million of smaller ones are estimated to circle planet Earth.
Source: Sputnik International
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
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