Russian Space debris hits the “Pegaso” (Pegasus) nanosatellite of Ecuador; What is Kessler syndrome ?
A small Ecuadoran satellite “Pegaso” (Pegasus) smashed with the debris of a Russian rocket. The extent of damage it has done is still unknown, however it has been confirmed that the satellite is still in the orbit.
What happened with the satellite?
- “Pegaso” (Pegasus) is nanosatellite of Ecuador collided with the remains of the Soviet rocket S14 launched into space nearly three decades ago.
- US space officials had confirmed Pegaso had suffered only a glancing blow from the Russian space debris or space junk.
- Pegaso which is the first satellite designed and built in Ecuador set off aboard an unmanned rocket April 25, 2013 from the Jiuquand station in northern China.
- The extent of the damage from the collision is yet to be determined.
What is Space Junk or Space Debris?
- Space debris, also known as orbital debris, space junk, and space waste, is the collection of defunct objects in orbit around Earth. This includes everything from spent rocket stages, old satellites, fragments from disintegration, erosion, and collisions.
Danger to Satellites and Spacecrafts: Since these junks move with a very high velocity, even small debris of about 1cm can cause severe erosive damage to satellites and spacecrafts if they get hit. When debris hit a high density part of a satellite/spacecraft they erode their surface which results into the creation of more debris of bigger size and number. As the chance of collision is influenced by the number of objects in space, there is a critical density where the creation of new debris occurs faster than the various natural forces remove them. Beyond this point a runaway chain reaction may occur that pulverizes everything in orbit, including functioning satellites. This is known as the “Kessler syndrome”. Currently about 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 5 cm are tracked, with another 300,000 pieces smaller than 1 cm below 2000 km altitude.