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Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Rossi A., Valsecchi G. B. Long term consequences of the Iridum 33 - Cosmos 2251 collision. In: IADC-27 - 27th Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) Plenary Meeting (Darmstadt, Germany, 25-27 marzo 2009).
 
 
Abstract
(English)
All of a sudden, collisions with space debris became a reality and possibly a nightmare when, on February 10, 2009, a satellite from the Iridium constellation and a non operational Russian satellite collided at about 776 km of altitude. This collision could be particularly dangerous for the space environment due to the peculiar orbital configuration of the Iridium constellation. About 10 years ago, we showed (Rossi, Valsecchi and Farinella, Nature, 399) how a collision involving a multi-plane constellation such as Iridium, might have very serious consequences on the constellation itself (and on the debris environment as a whole) due to the overall dynamics of the orbiting system. Unfortunately, what was a "gedankenexperiment" at the time of the Nature paper, became now reality. The results from (Rossi et al. 1999) are recalled and discussed on the light of the current event. The possible consequences of this fragmentation on the Iridium constellation and on the environment are discussed.
Subject Space debris
Celestial mechanics
Satellites constellations
Collision risk
J.2 Physical Sciences and Engineering
70M20 Orbital mechanics


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