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Violent sun storms that shoot bursts of energy in Earth's direction have the potential to damage satellites and power infrastructures, but they can also clear the skies of dangerous space debris, NASA scientists say.
The energy from these intense solar eruptions, called coronal mass ejections, causes the atmosphere to expand, creating more friction on pieces of space junk in orbit. The resulting drag sends orbital debris plummeting back toward Earth faster than trash from previous years.
More than 22,000 pieces of spent rocket parts and pieces of hardware ripped off from satellite collisions and explosions circle Earth, a minefield for functioning satellites and space travelers. Over time, the pieces fall back toward the planet, often burning up in the atmosphere.
"Everything is falling down," Nick Johnson, chief scientist for NASA's Orbital Debris Program in Houston, told SPACE.com. "It's just a question of at what rate."
On 21 January 2001, a Delta 2 third stage, known as a PAM-D (Payload Assist Module - Delta), reentered the atmosphere over the Middle East. The titanium motor casing of the PAM-D, weighing about 70 kg, landed in Saudi Arabia about 240 km from the capital of Riyadh
The Mir Space Station and Earth limb observed from the Orbiter Endeavour during NASA's STS-89 mission in 1998. Mir was de-orbited on March 23, 2001 breaking up over the Pacific Ocean
This tank from the space shuttle Columbia, which was destroyed during re-entry to Earth in 2003, was found in 2011 in east Texas.
Description: An artist's concept of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite in space. The 6 1/2-ton satellite was deployed from space shuttle Discovery in 1991 and decommissioned in December 2005. It will re-enter Earth's atmosphere as debris in late 2011.
ROSAT (short for Röntgensatellit, in German X-rays are called Röntgenstrahlen, in honour of Wilhelm Röntgen) was a German Aerospace Center-led satellite X-ray telescope, with instruments built by Germany, the UK and the US. It was launched on 1 June 1990, on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, on what was initially designed as an 18 month mission, with provision for up to five years of operation. ROSAT actually operated for over eight years, finally shutting down on 12 February 1999.
In February 2011, it was reported that the 2,400 kg (5,291 lb) satellite was unlikely to burn up entirely while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere due to the large amount of ceramics and glass used in construction. Parts as heavy as 400 kg (882 lb) could impact the surface intact. ROSAT eventually re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on 23 October 2011.
(Reuters) - Russia blamed radiation on Tuesday for a computer glitch that doomed its Mars moon mission, but space industry experts cast doubt on the findings of an investigation into the crash of what was to be Moscow's first deep space mission in two decades.
The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft was stranded in Earth orbit after launch in November and crashed into the Pacific Ocean this month, one of five recent botched Russian launches.
Space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin also said Moscow would postpone the next U.S.-Russian manned mission to the International Space Station by one month from March over technical problems during testing of the Soyuz spacecraft.
Originally posted by Destinyone
Sweep all that junk in space away. Leave my house for me to clean...that's all I ask.
I too, wondered if the solar flare increased activity, has affected some of the recent launches. It makes sense, EMP's mess with electrical devices here on Earth...
The risk near Earth, however, is limited. Astronauts in low-Earth orbit do not receive the full brunt of space radiation because the space station flies within Earth's protective magnetic field, which extends farther out.
"Based on the NASA Space Radiation Program?s analysis of events back to the 15th century, we estimate it would be almost impossible for a solar storm to occur that would be so large to lead to a recommendation to evacuate the ISS," Jeffs said.
Astronauts on a spacewalk, like the one planned for Saturday, can receive higher doses of space radiation, so they are timed to avoid high radiation events, NASA officials said.
Space radiation risk
Radiation exposure is measured in milliSeiverts. On Earth, the average human receives a radiation dose of about 2 mSv a year from background radiation. One mSv of space radiation is about the equivalent of receiving three chest X-rays, according to a NASA description.
Space station astronauts on six-month space missions typically receive about 80 mSv of space radiation during solar maximum ? about half the amount they receive when the sun's weather is at a solar minimum.?
Jeffs said that most solar weather events tend to lead to lower space radiation exposure for astronauts because increased solar activity can result in lower doses of galactic cosmic rays.
Those stronger cosmic rays ? space radiation that does not come from the sun ? are a larger risk for station astronauts and future explorers to Mars or elsewhere beyond Earth orbit, he added.
Originally posted by Silcone Synapse
reply to post by Ophiuchus 13
I do wonder about the space junk that falls back to Earth though-I wonder how many bits we don't know about,that are sitting in someone garage/house.
I know some of the stuff can be dangerous,but Those spheres would make a great plant pot or water feature in the garden.
Would you tell the authorities if you found some cool space junk?
I like to think I would-but if I found something really cool,it would be a tough decision to make...