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Small Talk: Salvaged Goodies

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I don't know if anyone will seee this, as this thread hasn't had any traffic, but I had to post it somewhere and it's not episode-related....

Sam Bee did a story this week, about actual for real space debris, and how much of a threat it is to not only our space programs, but also to all our other space-based technology, like weather and communication satellites. It's actually VERY DANGEROUS. And none of what she was talking about came from aliens.


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It is a very major issue, but that is orbital debris. Stuph that just enters the atmosphere usually burns up during what we call "reentry." (But that's correct only if it is something we launched in the first place.)

Of course, there are exceptions to the 'usually' above. The Chicxulub impactor that hit in the Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago, and seeming killed off the dinosaurs was about 15km in diameter, large enough to survive and strike the surface. Ditto Mir & Skylab.

If under control when a bird reenters, it's usually aimed at the South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area -- the spot in the ocean furthest away from land. There are a few hundred spacecraft on the seafloor there already.

Orbital debris is a hazard to other orbiting craft, with and without humans. If traveling at a different velocity, there is a lot of kinetic energy in such a collision.

KE = ½mv^2  

Two extremes: The Ever Given seems to be about 180,000,000 kilograms.

The orbital case: 8000 m/s and say 10 ounces

0.5 * 0.28kg * 8000m/s^2 = 9071847 joules.

9071847j = ½ * 180,000,000 * v^2

v = 0.3 m/s or 0.6 knots

So even a tiny bit of orbital junque is potentially equal energy to be hit by the Ever Given at half a knot.

ETA: Better science:













Edited by Syme
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