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Starlink could spark a new UFO sightings boom

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AllPossible

I wonder over time how many satellites will start colliding. Eventually they'll have traffic signals up there followed by speed traps

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sci-nerd
26 minutes ago, AllPossible said:

I wonder over time how many satellites will start colliding. Eventually they'll have traffic signals up there followed by speed traps

There are only 5,000 satellites in orbit, and they've each got more space for themselves, than any object on Earth could get, if we divided the surface.
Compared there are 1,5 million cars in NYC, a tiny area seen in that perspective. And traffic in space is much better organized.

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Waspie_Dwarf
10 minutes ago, sci-nerd said:

There are only 5,000 satellites in orbit, and they've each got more space for themselves, than any object on Earth could get, if we divided the surface.
Compared there are 1,5 million cars in NYC, a tiny area seen in that perspective. And traffic in space is much better organized.

Except that's such a massive over simplification that it becomes invalid.

In the case of "traffic in space being better organized", that's quite simply untrue. A large proportion of objects in orbit are dead and not being controlled at all.

Many satellites share similar orbits, so simply dividing the surface area by the number of satellites won't give you an accurate number. Worse still, satellites operate at a variety of different altitudes and so you need a 3D model not a 2D.

The big problem is that as well as the 5000 satellites there is a huge amount of space junk. Some of this is so small that it is difficult to track but, at orbital velocities  they can cause damage/total destruction to an operational satellite ( the outer pane of a shuttle orbiter window was damaged by a fleck of paint).

Satellite collisions can and do happen.

In 1996 a French spy satellite was destroyed by debris from an Ariane upper stage.

In 2009 the Iridium 33 communications satellite was destroyed in a collision with the defunct Kosmos 2251 satellite. 

In 2013 the Russian nano-satellite BLITS was destroyed by debris from the Chinese Fengyung FY1C satellite.

Also in 2013 two cubesats, one from Argentina and one from Ecuador were destroyed by debris from a Tsyklon upper stage.

Already there has been a near miss with a Starlink satellite. ESA had to take emergency avoiding action with their Aeolus Earth observation satellite when, due to a communications problem, SpaceX failed to respond to a potential collision with their Starlink 44 satellite. 

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AllPossible
44 minutes ago, sci-nerd said:

There are only 5,000 satellites in orbit, and they've each got more space for themselves, than any object on Earth could get, if we divided the surface.
Compared there are 1,5 million cars in NYC, a tiny area seen in that perspective. And traffic in space is much better organized.

I understand that. But 40,000 more satellites in a few years is just whats being reported. Plenty of countries arent reporting their launches. Eventually there will be chaos up there especially considering that velocity. 

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sci-nerd
13 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Except that's such a massive over simplification that it becomes invalid.

Simplification is a good forum tool. And it's not invalid, it's just less detailed.

14 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

In the case of "traffic in space being better organized", that's quite simply untrue. A large proportion of objects in orbit are dead and not being controlled at all.

True, but their orbit is known. We know where they are. And unless they get knocked out of course, they should not cause any chaos.

Basically we agree. You are just much more into details than I care to be.

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Seti42

If this gives me cheaper (or free!) high speed internet, I'm 100% for it. Sorry astronomers, but internet access is a right not a privilege (IMO), and it's WAY too expensive...At least when your only option is Comcast. :angry:

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toast
11 hours ago, AllPossible said:

Plenty of countries arent reporting their launches.

Even if some launches are not reported, the satellites trajectories of the hidden launched ones are well known and mentioned in the databases of all nations/companies who operate and plan satellite launches/missions.

Quote

Eventually there will be chaos up there especially considering that velocity. 

Speed isnt an issue, trajectories are doing the trick.

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toast
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, sci-nerd said:

Compared there are 1,5 million cars in NYC, a tiny area seen in that perspective. And traffic in space is much better organized.

Cars have brakes, satellites dont.

Quote

There are only 5,000 satellites in orbit, and they've each got more space for themselves, than any object on Earth could get, if we divided the surface.

If we add the planned 40k units we are at 45k satellites, which increase the probability of collisions by factor 8. Each collision would increase the collision factor in an exponential fashion because of the generated amount of debris.

 

Edited by toast
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ChrLzs
Posted (edited)
On 1/8/2020 at 7:32 AM, AllPossible said:

I understand that. But 40,000 more satellites in a few years is just whats being reported. Plenty of countries arent reporting their launches. Eventually there will be chaos up there especially considering that velocity. 

To add to what Toast said - you cannot hide a satellite launch.  There's that big rocket thingy that blasts out exhaust, there are amateur astronomers all around the globe.  As soon as it goes into orbit, it will reflect sunlight back to earth for about half of each orbit and thus be visible, and then a whole pile of independent folks will work out its orbital parameters.  Then the information will be available to all, at places like Heavens Above.  Try it.

And that site includes spy satellites and all satellites and expended rocket boosters etc from every country on the globe.... (Cue Twilight Zone music).

And yes, already there are systems being tested that will collect / destroy / return the 'dead' stuff so the hazard risk is reduced.

Added:

Oh, and some satellites, including many current / newer ones, have little thrusters that can be used to change/maintain their orbits.  OK, not really brakes, but they can be moved around.  Obviously this does not apply to old/dead ones...

Edited by ChrLzs
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