Near-Collision of Australian and Chinese Satellites Raises Concerns Over Space Debris

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Australian and Chinese Satellites Almost Collide in Orbit

Concerns over the growing issue of space debris have been raised after reports emerged of a near-collision between an Australian satellite and a suspected Chinese military satellite. With space becoming increasingly crowded, the need for space domain awareness is now more important than ever.

Space domain awareness is the field of detecting, tracking, and monitoring objects in Earth’s orbit, including active satellites and space debris. Ground-based tracking systems such as radar and telescopes are used to track and monitor these objects. Currently, there are over 8,700 active satellites in orbit around Earth, with the number set to increase by 700% by the end of the decade.

Satellites are typically situated in three main orbits: low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit, and geosynchronous orbit. Low Earth orbit is the most common, with approximately 5,900 active satellites residing up to 1,000km above Earth’s surface. The International Space Station is an example of a low Earth orbit object. Medium Earth orbit is less crowded but houses important satellites like the GPS system. Geosynchronous orbit, situated around 35,000km above Earth, is a special type of orbit that appears stationary from the ground.

Space junk, which includes disused artificial debris ranging from entire satellites to small fragments, also poses a significant threat. There are currently more than 130 million pieces of space debris, with only 35,000 of those large enough to be regularly tracked from the ground.

To address these challenges, space domain awareness plays a crucial role. Australia, in particular, has a unique opportunity to contribute to space domain awareness due to its location. Telescopes in Australia can operate in dark night skies with minimal light pollution, making it an ideal location for space surveillance.

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Australia is currently working on a space domain awareness technology demonstrator, funded by SmartSat CRC. This initiative brings together experts in observational astrophysics, advanced data visualization, artificial intelligence, and space weather. The goal is to have a minute-by-minute understanding of what is happening in space and to monitor objects in orbit more effectively.

The recent US government fine imposed on the DISH Network for violating a debris mitigation plan serves as a warning to other companies. As the number of satellites and space debris continues to rise, it is crucial to ensure the safety and longevity of Earth’s space domain.

In conclusion, space domain awareness is becoming increasingly vital as space debris and the number of satellites in orbit continue to grow. Australia’s role in contributing to space domain awareness through innovative technology and research is crucial in maintaining the safety and effectiveness of Earth’s space activities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is space domain awareness?

Space domain awareness is the field of detecting, tracking, and monitoring objects in Earth's orbit, including active satellites and space debris.

How do ground-based tracking systems monitor objects in space?

Ground-based tracking systems such as radar and telescopes are used to detect, track, and monitor objects in space.

How many active satellites are currently in orbit?

There are currently over 8,700 active satellites in orbit around Earth.

What are the three main satellite orbits?

The three main satellite orbits are low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit, and geosynchronous orbit.

What is the most common satellite orbit?

The most common satellite orbit is low Earth orbit, where approximately 5,900 active satellites reside up to 1,000km above Earth's surface.

How many pieces of space debris are currently tracked from the ground?

Only 35,000 pieces of space debris, out of more than 130 million, are currently large enough to be regularly tracked from the ground.

Why is Australia well-suited for space surveillance?

Australia's location allows telescopes to operate in dark night skies with minimal light pollution, making it an ideal location for space surveillance.

What is Australia's current initiative in space domain awareness?

Australia is currently working on a space domain awareness technology demonstrator, funded by SmartSat CRC, to have a minute-by-minute understanding of what is happening in space and monitor objects in orbit more effectively.

Are there any regulations for satellite operators regarding space debris?

Yes, satellite operators are required to adhere to debris mitigation plans to ensure the safety and longevity of Earth's space domain.

Why is space domain awareness important?

Space domain awareness is important in order to address the growing issue of space debris and the increasing number of satellites in orbit, to ensure the safety and effectiveness of Earth's space activities.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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