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Indian Satellite Destruction Leaves A Lot Of Debris In Space

Officials Say More The 50 Pieces Of Debris Remain In Orbit 4 Months After The Spacecraft Was Destroyed

On March 27th, India fired a missile at one of its own satellites launched in January to test its capability to take out an orbiting spacecraft. The test was successful, but there is still a lot of space junk in orbit that could pose a threat to other spacecraft, according to officials.

The Verge reports that the threat to other spacecraft is small, but the debris may remain in orbit for as much as a year before it falls back to Earth.

India reportedly tried to minimize the amount of space junk from the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test by targeting a satellite in relatively-low-Earth orbit. One Indian official said that the debris should be cleared in 45 days after the test. Reuters reports that G. Satheesh Reddy, the chief of India’s Defence Research and Development Organization, said the debris would "vanish in no time."

The U.S. Air Force, which tracks space debris, said that most of the debris is gone. But Maj. Cody Chiles, a public affairs officer for the Air Force’s Joint Force Space Component Command, which oversees the 18th Space Control Squadron, told The Verge that the impact threw some pieces into higher orbits that the one taken by the original satellite, and some pieces could even intersect the orbit of the International Space Station.

Major Chiles said that more than 130 days after the test, more than 50 pieces of debris are currently being tracked by the Air Force. NASA confirmed the persistence of the orbital debris, with some pieces reaching altitudes as high as 1,000 miles above the Earth.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard, said that based on computer models of current decay rates, there will be debris from the test in orbit for at least another year.

(Image from file)

FMI: Source report

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