Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TECH SPACE
Probing satellites' mysterious death tumbling
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) May 29, 2014


On 15 April, the French space agency CNES rotated the Pleiades Earth observation satellite to capture this image of Envisat. At a distance of about 100 km, Envisat's main body, solar panel and radar antenna were visible. Image courtesy CNES. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Down on the ground, death equals stillness - but not in space. Derelict satellites can tumble in unpredictable ways and ESA's team tasked with developing a space salvage mission want to find out why. In recent years, satellites beginning uncontrolled reentries have been tracked, such as Russia's Phobos-Grunt and Germany's Rosat.

In a few cases, satellites suffering unexpected failures in orbit have also been followed, including ESA's Envisat and Japan's ADEOS-II. In every case, the satellite has been seen to be tumbling - but the reason why remains a mystery.

Similarly, when control of a satellite is temporarily lost, ESA's Operations Centre team in Darmstadt, Germany, are accustomed to fixing the satellite's attitude as a prelude to recovery - helping to better understand the satellite's status.

ESA's Clean Space initiative - tasked with reducing the space industry's environmental impact on Earth and space - is seeking to transform our understanding of how large, dead objects behave in space, encompassing launcher upper stages as well as satellites.

The aim of a new study is to combine detailed computer analysis with a range of ground-based observations, some which have only rarely been tried.

Optical telescopes and ground radar are today's favoured monitoring methods, but the study will also investigate the potential of optical and radar satellites in nearby orbits for space-to-space observations.

Highly accurate laser ranging will also be attempted. A global network of ground stations would bounce lasers off a satellite's retroreflectors - like 'cat's eyes' built into a motorway.

Laser ranging can pin down a satellite's position to within centimetres, but has seldom been attempted on out-of-control objects.

The hope is that sustained observation of particular objects over time will give new insights into the kind of factors influencing attitude changes, and how this motion is likely to change over time.

Meanwhile, specialised simulations will seek to pin down these drivers and develop reliable forecasts of how derelict satellites behave.

The long list of potential perturbations include changes in the satellite's centre of gravity as parts break off, atmospheric drag, the faint but steady push of sunlight, micrometeoroid and debris impacts, internal magnetic fields, outgassing and fuel leaks, exploding batteries and even the sloshing of leftover fuel.

For Clean Space, this study is of more than academic interest. The team is planning a dedicated satellite salvage mission called e.DeOrbit and improving our knowledge of a target's condition will help to fine-tune the design.

Bidders are welcome on the study contract. For more information, check the invitation package, accessible here.

.


Related Links
Clean Space at ESA
Satellite salvage mission - e.DeOrbit
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




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





TECH SPACE
UMD Establishes Orbital Debris Research Center
College Park MD (SPX) May 23, 2014
The University of Maryland has announced the establishment of the Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research (CODER) to address critical issues in orbiting space debris and serve as a hub for academic, industry and government research collaboration. "CODER is the first academically led center established to address the full range of issues surrounding the orbital debris problem," sai ... read more


TECH SPACE
Water in moon rocks provides clues and questions about lunar history

Earth's gravitational pull stretches moon surface

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon's Dancing Tide From Orbit

NASA Invites Public to Select Favorite Moon Image for Lunar Orbiter Anniversary Collection

TECH SPACE
New Mars Lander to Probe Interior of Red Planet

A habitable environment on Martian volcano

Mars Curiosity rover may have transported Earth bacteria to Mars

NASA Mars Weather Camera Helps Find New Crater on Red Planet

TECH SPACE
Virgin space flights cleared for US take-off

NASA faces identity crisis, funding battle

Engineers reconnect with ISEE-3, retired NASA probe

Simulation Practices First Flight of New Orion Program

TECH SPACE
Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Chinese space team survives on worm diet for 105 days

Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

TECH SPACE
Russian Soyuz with New Crew Docks at ISS in Automatic Mode

Six-Person Station Crew Enjoys Day Off Following Docking

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrives at ISS

Three New Crew Members En Route to ISS

TECH SPACE
SpaceX unveils capsule to ferry astronauts to space

Elon Musk to present manned DragonV2 spacecraft on May 29

Russia puts satellite in orbit from sea platform after 2013 flop

SpaceX Completes Qualification Testing of SuperDraco Thruster

TECH SPACE
Why Does Earth Have No Super-Earth Cousins?

Astronomers identify signature of Earth-eating stars

Starshade Could Help Photograph Distant Planets

Giant telescope tackles orbit and size of exoplanet

TECH SPACE
Scientists unveil first method for controlling the growth of metal crystals

TUM researchers demonstrate: Brain controlled flight is possible

Leaving the islands

Probing satellites' mysterious death tumbling




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - 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.