April 3, 2019: Note to space powers: If you’re going to blow a satellite to bits, solar minimum is a terrible time to do it. India is grappling with this important truth today as debris from their March 27th anti-satellite weapons test spreads through space. As many as 6,500 pieces of the Microsat-R Earth observation satellite are now circling Earth, according to a simulation created by Analytical Graphics Inc.:
During solar minimum–happening now!–Earth’s upper atmosphere cools and contracts, sharply reducing aerodynamic drag that causes satellites to decay. Indeed, in 2019 the temperature of the thermosphere is close to a Space Age record low. This could double or triple the time required for fragments of the shattered satellite to sink into the atmosphere and disintegrate. Small fragments in high orbits may remain aloft for years, circling the planet like tiny bullets traveling 17,000 mph.
This event brings to…
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