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(From Quarks to Quasars)   "Imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit, which creates more debris and hits more objects and....you get the picture"   (fromquarkstoquasars.com) divider line 83
    More: Scary, space junk, communication satellites, orbits, space systems, EPFL, Lausanne, ETH Zurich  
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3676 clicks; posted to Geek » on 09 Dec 2013 at 11:45 AM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-09 11:50:18 AM
What about the twinkie?
 
2013-12-09 11:50:24 AM
Kessler Syndrome!  (thanks Planetes for educating me of this years ago)
 
2013-12-09 11:50:36 AM
 
2013-12-09 11:52:28 AM
So, the movie Gravity, but in real life.

/Boring movie, IMO
 
2013-12-09 11:52:55 AM
Imagine the odds that something the size of a screw will impact anything else in orbit...
 
2013-12-09 11:54:01 AM
Gunnery Chief: This, recruits, is a 20-kilo ferrous slug. Feel the weight. Every five seconds, the main gun of an Everest-class dreadnought accelerates one to 1.3 percent of light speed. It impacts with the force of a 38-kilotomb bomb. That is three times the yield of the city buster dropped on Hiroshima back on Earth.That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-biatch in space. Now! Serviceman Burnside! What is Newton's First Law?

Recruit: Sir! A object in motion stays in motion, sir!

Gunnery Chief: No credit for partial answers, maggot!

Recruit: Sir! Unless acted on by an outside force, sir!

Gunnery Chief: Damn straight! I dare to assume you ignorant jackasses know that space is empty. Once you fire a husk of metal, it keeps going until it hits something. That can be a ship, or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years.
If you pull the trigger on this, you're ruining someone's day somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your damn targets! That is why you wait for the computer to give you a **** firing solution! That is why, Serviceman Chung, we do not "eyeball it!" This is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip!

Recruit: Sir, yes sir!"

/somewhat relavent
//obviously not obscure
 
2013-12-09 11:56:01 AM

Dingleberry Dickwad: /somewhat relavent


Isn't sci-fi fun when you're 13?
 
2013-12-09 11:59:31 AM
This reminds me of something the Submarine Force refers to as the 'Big Ocean, Small Boat' theory.  In effect, it seems impossible that of all the ocean, two submarines would happen to be in the exact same place at the exact same depth at the exact same time.  What people don't think about is that in the ocean, like in orbit, there are places where it makes sense to be.  Communication satellites and such HAVE to be in a certain place to work.  Same thing with submarines.  The realities of operations force you into close proximity, with big empty areas that are empty because nobody has any reason to be there. In reality, they say the odds of a collision are something along the lines of three orders of magnitude higher than pure chance averaged over all of the available area.
 
2013-12-09 12:01:48 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Dingleberry Dickwad: /somewhat relavent

Isn't sci-fi fun when you're 13?


Is sci-fi worse than actual space exploration or vice versa.  Should we retask all of the money we are wasting on Heinlein, Aasimov, et al.m,  to a more purposeful task like statistics textbooks?
 
2013-12-09 12:02:42 PM
...currently we are tracking over 300,000 pieces of orbital debris that are 1 centimeter or larger.

OK, that's a lot of debris, but what amazes me is that we are tracking that many objects that are THAT small...
 
2013-12-09 12:08:32 PM
amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-12-09 12:13:15 PM
FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.
 
2013-12-09 12:14:32 PM

RangerTaylor: Is sci-fi worse than actual space exploration or vice versa.


Space exploration? That's a loaded word. We have pictures from 13 billion light years away, yet some people think you need to walk there for it to be exploring.

Sci-fi isn't "worse" than anything, but thinking it's some sort of guide to reality is ... naive at best. It's just Harlequin romances for boy nerds. Full of overblown imagery, heroic nonsense and completely unrealistic portrayals of the sheer size and emptiness of space.

Niven's Protector at least had slower than light travel taking 36000 years between worlds, but even that required several magical materials and technologies.

Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]


You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?
 
2013-12-09 12:21:13 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: RangerTaylor: Is sci-fi worse than actual space exploration or vice versa.

Space exploration? That's a loaded word. We have pictures from 13 billion light years away, yet some people think you need to walk there for it to be exploring.

Sci-fi isn't "worse" than anything, but thinking it's some sort of guide to reality is ... naive at best. It's just Harlequin romances for boy nerds. Full of overblown imagery, heroic nonsense and completely unrealistic portrayals of the sheer size and emptiness of space.

Niven's Protector at least had slower than light travel taking 36000 years between worlds, but even that required several magical materials and technologies.

Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?


Magical advances similar to a hand-held device that allows you to access an appreciable fraction of the entire knowledge of the human race?  Without even plugging into a wall?

Do you have issues with fantasy as well?  Is using a fantastic setting as way to explore the intricacies of human interaction by divorcing it from our historically-shaded worldview not worthwhile?
 
2013-12-09 12:24:38 PM

PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.


Up in geostationary orbit, that would be mostly true. Elsewhere, different satellites, spacecraft, and bits thereof are traveling in a wide variety of orbits.
 
2013-12-09 12:25:00 PM
I get Kessler Syndrome every Saturday night, from my Manhattans.
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-12-09 12:26:26 PM
I read that as imagine screwing at 20,000 mph...it led to some disappointment after reading the article.
 
2013-12-09 12:29:56 PM

RangerTaylor: Do you have issues with fantasy as well?


He was a tender 9 when his application for Space Camp was turned down... the scars run deep.
 
2013-12-09 12:30:59 PM
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw

// stop feeding the life extension nutter
 
2013-12-09 12:33:11 PM

RangerTaylor: Quantum Apostrophe: RangerTaylor: Is sci-fi worse than actual space exploration or vice versa.

Space exploration? That's a loaded word. We have pictures from 13 billion light years away, yet some people think you need to walk there for it to be exploring.

Sci-fi isn't "worse" than anything, but thinking it's some sort of guide to reality is ... naive at best. It's just Harlequin romances for boy nerds. Full of overblown imagery, heroic nonsense and completely unrealistic portrayals of the sheer size and emptiness of space.

Niven's Protector at least had slower than light travel taking 36000 years between worlds, but even that required several magical materials and technologies.

Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?

Magical advances similar to a hand-held device that allows you to access an appreciable fraction of the entire knowledge of the human race?  Without even plugging into a wall?

Do you have issues with fantasy as well?  Is using a fantastic setting as way to explore the intricacies of human interaction by divorcing it from our historically-shaded worldview not worthwhile?


I'm curious as to what he actually does all day.  That is, outside of shiatting in just about every Geek thread he can he his hands on, which is really the saddest of threadshiatting.
 
2013-12-09 12:35:33 PM
Yeah, I understand I am feeding the nutter, but it's like talking to a stripper, I want to find out what led him to his lofty station in life.
 
2013-12-09 12:45:50 PM
Thanks a farking lot Subby...I'm now blind because of that link.  And you probably gave Drew an idea for the background color of the next Fark format change.
 
2013-12-09 12:48:08 PM

PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.


Not necessarily. For starters, they could be traveling in the exact same orbit, but in the opposite direction. All the math works out the same, except that you get a closing speed of 40,000 mph. That would be unusual -- you generally launch into an orbit that lets you take advantage of the Earth's spin -- but not impossible. A more likely scenario is that one object was in something closer to a polar orbit, and the other something closer to equatorial.

In geosynch orbit, things in general will have low relative velocities -- the whole point of being up there is to stay "over" one point on the equator, and so everything's moving with approximately the same velocity. And there's less stuff up there as well, because it's harder/more expensive to get to.

Putting a big sandbag into a retrograde geosynchronous orbit (same altitude/period, opposite direction) and then popping it would be a terrible thing to do to a civilization.
 
2013-12-09 12:57:06 PM

PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.


It's about relative velocities and orbital inclinations. If you are on the freeway going at 60mph and another car pulls alongside you, you can reach out the window and shake the hand of the passenger next to you even though your velocity is high because your relative velocity is near zero.

However, if that car was coming at you at a perpendicular angle, even though it is the same absolute speed, your relative velocities are all out of whack and it's going to be a giant fireball.

In Earth orbit, objects are not only going at different speeds depending on their altitude, but also different directions based on their orbital inclination. One orbit may be perfectly equatorial and another at a 50 degree inclination. Given the vast array of launches over the years the number of varied orbits with debris in them is astounding. That's the danger.
 
2013-12-09 12:58:42 PM
Quantum Apostrophe:  That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?

Because in the time-frame of the Planetes universe, space travel is low-cost. The very first scene had a passenger craft being destroyed by a Gravity-esque incident.
 
2013-12-09 01:03:03 PM
www.icheg.org
 
2013-12-09 01:06:34 PM
We need a hero.
We need a cleaner.
We need... SPACE ROOMBA
 
2013-12-09 01:29:12 PM
A butterfly flaps its wings in geosynchronous orbit...
 
2013-12-09 01:49:25 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: RangerTaylor: Is sci-fi worse than actual space exploration or vice versa.

Space exploration? That's a loaded word. We have pictures from 13 billion light years away, yet some people think you need to walk there for it to be exploring.

Sci-fi isn't "worse" than anything, but thinking it's some sort of guide to reality is ... naive at best. It's just Harlequin romances for boy nerds. Full of overblown imagery, heroic nonsense and completely unrealistic portrayals of the sheer size and emptiness of space.

Niven's Protector at least had slower than light travel taking 36000 years between worlds, but even that required several magical materials and technologies.

Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?


Anything is better than clutch head
 
2013-12-09 01:53:19 PM

Millennium: We need a hero.
We need a cleaner.
We need... SPACE ROOMBA


It may not be the hero we want, but it's the hero we need.
 
2013-12-09 01:53:46 PM
 
2013-12-09 01:54:29 PM

LowbrowDeluxe: What about the twinkie?


somebody tell him about the twinkie.
 
2013-12-09 01:58:22 PM

Dingleberry Dickwad: Gunnery Chief: This, recruits, is a 20-kilo ferrous slug. Feel the weight. Every five seconds, the main gun of an Everest-class dreadnought accelerates one to 1.3 percent of light speed. It impacts with the force of a 38-kilotomb bomb. That is three times the yield of the city buster dropped on Hiroshima back on Earth.That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-biatch in space. Now! Serviceman Burnside! What is Newton's First Law?

Recruit: Sir! A object in motion stays in motion, sir!

Gunnery Chief: No credit for partial answers, maggot!

Recruit: Sir! Unless acted on by an outside force, sir!

Gunnery Chief: Damn straight! I dare to assume you ignorant jackasses know that space is empty. Once you fire a husk of metal, it keeps going until it hits something. That can be a ship, or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years.
If you pull the trigger on this, you're ruining someone's day somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your damn targets! That is why you wait for the computer to give you a **** firing solution! That is why, Serviceman Chung, we do not "eyeball it!" This is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip!

Recruit: Sir, yes sir!"

/somewhat relavent
//obviously not obscure


Mass effect 3 had it's moments. that was one of them.

/the opposite clone dlc was fun, too
 
2013-12-09 02:53:53 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Space exploration? That's a loaded word. We have pictures from 13 billion light years away, yet some people think you need to walk there for it to be exploring.

Sci-fi isn't "worse" than anything, but thinking it's some sort of guide to reality is ... naive at best. It's just Harlequin romances for boy nerds. Full of overblown imagery, heroic nonsense and completely unrealistic portrayals of the sheer size and emptiness of space.

Niven's Protector at least had slower than light travel taking 36000 years between worlds, but even that required several magical materials and technologies.


TechnoBevets, still farking that 3D-printed space chicken......
 
2013-12-09 02:54:42 PM

RangerTaylor: Magical advances similar to a hand-held device that allows you to access an appreciable fraction of the entire knowledge of the human race? Without even plugging into a wall?


Information transfer. Math. Weightless, massless, low energy, low stress on materials. Yes. We know how to wiggle photons in interesting ways.

What does this have to do with nuts and bolts engineering such as rockets, life support systems, thrust, materials, etc?

How fast was a 747 in 1969? What was it made of? What theories were behind its engines?

Contrast and compare with 2013.

We hit some limits very fast, very early. Information processing had many MANY orders of magnitude to go "down" in scale because flipping one bit requires so little energy.

It just took time for our manufacturing technology to scale down to match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NGFhc8R_uO4

A bit used to be stored in a vacuum-tube flip-flop circuit. That's two triodes and biasing components and filaments. Call it 5 watts of power PER BIT.

40 watts for a BYTE. 40KW, or a house, for a kilobyte of memory.

Yet, bit flipping requires only 10 ^-21 watts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle

We had about 24 orders of magnitude DOWN to play with for our technology to catch up.

There were hundreds of different technologies along the decades to store and process bits.

But it always takes the same amount of energy to move the same mass.

How many different ways are there to produce thrust? Brayton cycle, Carnot cycle, turbines and pistons and rockets. What else?

There are only 92 stable elements to play with on the Periodic Table.

Unless you plan on sending Smurfs or frozen fertilized eggs on generation ships, no one's going anywhere.

And even that requires some fairly magical technology like 100% reliable self-repairing and maintaining machinery and a power source to match.

No one's going anywhere. Guaranteed. It's not even a debate.

RangerTaylor: Do you have issues with fantasy as well?


No one seems to take it as seriously. I don't see fantasy people earnestly saying we'll all fly on dragons and use magic spells to make food. They seem to know it's fantasy.

RangerTaylor: Is using a fantastic setting as way to explore the intricacies of human interaction by divorcing it from our historically-shaded worldview not worthwhile?


It's fun. But when you think we'll ACTUALLY have colonies on Mars or asteroid mines because YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND IT'S JUST A FANTASTIC SETTING, that's a problem!
 
2013-12-09 03:18:03 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?


The only reason I posted this image is that it comes from the anime series Planetes. The series is about... wait for it... cleaning up this exact type of orbital debris. The show opens with a shuttle full of people being killed by a single screw traveling at thousands of miles per hour.
 
2013-12-09 03:24:23 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: RangerTaylor: Magical advances similar to a hand-held device that allows you to access an appreciable fraction of the entire knowledge of the human race? Without even plugging into a wall?

Information transfer. Math. Weightless, massless, low energy, low stress on materials. Yes. We know how to wiggle photons in interesting ways.

What does this have to do with nuts and bolts engineering such as rockets, life support systems, thrust, materials, etc?

How fast was a 747 in 1969? What was it made of? What theories were behind its engines?

Contrast and compare with 2013.

We hit some limits very fast, very early. Information processing had many MANY orders of magnitude to go "down" in scale because flipping one bit requires so little energy.

It just took time for our manufacturing technology to scale down to match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NGFhc8R_uO4

A bit used to be stored in a vacuum-tube flip-flop circuit. That's two triodes and biasing components and filaments. Call it 5 watts of power PER BIT.

40 watts for a BYTE. 40KW, or a house, for a kilobyte of memory.

Yet, bit flipping requires only 10 ^-21 watts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle

We had about 24 orders of magnitude DOWN to play with for our technology to catch up.

There were hundreds of different technologies along the decades to store and process bits.

But it always takes the same amount of energy to move the same mass.

How many different ways are there to produce thrust? Brayton cycle, Carnot cycle, turbines and pistons and rockets. What else?

There are only 92 stable elements to play with on the Periodic Table.

Unless you plan on sending Smurfs or frozen fertilized eggs on generation ships, no one's going anywhere.

And even that requires some fairly magical technology like 100% reliable self-repairing and maintaining machinery and a power source to match.

No one's going anywhere. Guaranteed. It's not even a debate.

RangerTaylor: Do you hav ...


Honestly man, I have no idea what spaceflight ever did to you to fill you with such rage.  Of all things to get pissed off about, I just don't get it.
 
2013-12-09 03:28:44 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: RangerTaylor: Magical advances similar to a hand-held device that allows you to access an appreciable fraction of the entire knowledge of the human race? Without even plugging into a wall?

.....

How many different ways are there to produce thrust? Brayton cycle, Carnot cycle, turbines and pistons and rockets. What else?

There are only 92 stable elements to play with on the Periodic Table.

Unless you plan on sending Smurfs or frozen fertilized eggs on generation ships, no one's going anywhere.

And even that requires some fairly magical technology like 100% reliable self-repairing and maintaining machinery and a power source to match.

No one's going anywhere. Guaranteed. It's not even a debate.


And because humanity doesn't know how to do this today, it will never ever know how to in the future. There will never be leaps and bounds or just slight progress in human technology or our understanding of the universe and the laws of physics. We know exactly where our limits lie and no one is ever going to bother pushing those limits. It's common knowledge exactly what society, technology and civilization will look like in 10, 100 or 1000 years. Just like a century ago they perfectly predicted what the modern ere would look like. Yep, no debate what so ever. Guaranteed.
 
2013-12-09 03:49:13 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: How fast was a 747 in 1969


DRINK!!
 
2013-12-09 03:57:04 PM

RangerTaylor: Honestly man, I have no idea what spaceflight ever did to you to fill you with such rage. Of all things to get pissed off about, I just don't get it.


It's the people that think we'll colonize the universe. Is this distinction this difficult to understand?

I'm pissed off because, as you yourself noted, we live in an era of instant information access and 5 minutes of that time would show what I showed you. Well, plus the hour of the youtube video.

Please watch it.

We have many problems to solve right here and brains being distracted by what amounts to a religion is a waste.

Gaddiel: And because humanity doesn't know how to do this today, it will never ever know how to in the future


Please read what I wrote again.

We already know it'll never happen.

Forget it, find some other religion to believe in. At this point, genetically engineering unicorns and actual fire-breathing dragons are more likely.

Surool: Quantum Apostrophe: Surool: [amcentralblog.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]

You'd think they'd use at least Pozidriv in space, not crappy camming-out Philips. That's a low-cost screw in any case, what's it doing in space?

The only reason I posted this image is that it comes from the anime series Planetes. The series is about... wait for it... cleaning up this exact type of orbital debris. The show opens with a shuttle full of people being killed by a single screw traveling at thousands of miles per hour.


Obviously that screw came from a cost-reduced thingy made by the lowest bidder.  Non ferrous too? I'd have used a magnet myself.

But I'm just a Luddite. But a Luddite that would use something better than a 10-32 screw in Philips for something that's supposed to go in space.
 
2013-12-09 04:00:51 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: How fast was a 747 in 1969?


Why not really hammer home the point with "How round was the wheel 2000 years ago compared to now and by the way you're all nancy boys".
 
2013-12-09 04:06:48 PM

cranked: Quantum Apostrophe: How fast was a 747 in 1969?

Why not really hammer home the point with "How round was the wheel 2000 years ago compared to now and by the way you're all nancy boys".


Is that a 3D printed hammer?
 
2013-12-09 04:08:06 PM

PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.


Shhhh, talking about orbital frames will just confuse the masses. For the rest of us, it's the intercept velocities that count, although the intersecting orbits are the real gold. Two orbits intersect at 10 degrees, colliding debris should come out of the impact with diminished velocity and fall out of orbit.
 
2013-12-09 04:09:14 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: It's the people that think we'll colonize the universe.


We're in a thread about debris that is actually in orbit around our actual planet, put there by actual people using actual science.  The only one going on about 'colonizing the universe', as usual, is you.  While you occasionally make interesting (and obvious points) you immediately follow up with a straw man larger than can reasonably be created with any number of 3D printers and then thrash the hell out of it, all the while explaining to everyone else how stupid they sound.
 
2013-12-09 04:10:29 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Is that a 3D printed hammer?


Drink!
 
2013-12-09 04:10:58 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Is that a 3D printed hammer?


Yes it is - please use it to hammer that misplaced parenthesis in my previous post over to the correct place.
 
2013-12-09 04:14:14 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Gaddiel: And because humanity doesn't know how to do this today, it will never ever know how to in the future

Please read what I wrote again.

We already know it'll never happen.

Forget it, find some other religion to believe in. At this point, genetically engineering unicorns and actual fire-breathing dragons are more likely.


What, am I not agreeing with you? Modern science knows everything. We have a full and complete understanding of the universe and nothing will ever change! Previously held notions about physics have never been disproved or found to be false or incomplete. Never ever will someone figure out new methods of energy storage, energy generation, or locomotion, or how to manipulate relativity or some other ridiculous bit of science fiction nonsense. It's fixed, final, finito, fait. Right?
 
2013-12-09 04:16:39 PM

Gaddiel: Quantum Apostrophe: Gaddiel: And because humanity doesn't know how to do this today, it will never ever know how to in the future

Please read what I wrote again.

We already know it'll never happen.

Forget it, find some other religion to believe in. At this point, genetically engineering unicorns and actual fire-breathing dragons are more likely.

What, am I not agreeing with you? Modern science knows everything. We have a full and complete understanding of the universe and nothing will ever change! Previously held notions about physics have never been disproved or found to be false or incomplete. Never ever will someone figure out new methods of energy storage, energy generation, or locomotion, or how to manipulate relativity or some other ridiculous bit of science fiction nonsense. It's fixed, final, finito, fait. Right?


Forget it, he's rolling.
 
2013-12-09 04:16:52 PM

PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.


No, because orbits do not all have the same direction and profile.  An elliptical orbit between 10k and 100k is going to have way more speed than the object steady at 10k.
 
2013-12-09 04:18:02 PM

Chalji: PsyLord: FTA: ...(imagine a screw traveling 20,000 miles an hour). That debris would then hit other objects in orbit

Aren't the other objects in orbit also traveling roughly the same speed?  The way they stated it in the article made it sound as though the screw is going to impact something that was not moving, so in essence a 20k mph hit.

It's about relative velocities and orbital inclinations. If you are on the freeway going at 60mph and another car pulls alongside you, you can reach out the window and shake the hand of the passenger next to you even though your velocity is high because your relative velocity is near zero.

However, if that car was coming at you at a perpendicular angle, even though it is the same absolute speed, your relative velocities are all out of whack and it's going to be a giant fireball.

In Earth orbit, objects are not only going at different speeds depending on their altitude, but also different directions based on their orbital inclination. One orbit may be perfectly equatorial and another at a 50 degree inclination. Given the vast array of launches over the years the number of varied orbits with debris in them is astounding. That's the danger.


What he said. Additionally, when objects start moving at around 20k mph, a couple hundred miles per hour off is a real possibility. Even if objects were travelling within 1% of 20k mph, that is still a relative speed of 200 mph which can certainly ruin your day in space if you get hit by something going that fast.
 
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