A “worst case scenario” was prevented on Friday when two large areas of debris narrowly missed each other, according to LeoLabs.
LeoLabs said the debris included the defunct Cosmos 2361 satellite and the body of the SL-8 rocket, which are two uncountable pieces of space debris now in low-Earth orbit.
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According to NASA, objects in low earth orbit (or LEO) involve objects of our planet at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers (2,000 km) or less.
On Friday, Cosmos 2381 and the body of the SL 8 rocket nearly collided at an altitude of about 611 miles (984 km).
LeoLabs determined that the two pieces of space debris missed each other by about 20 feet (6 meters), with a margin of error of a few tens of meters.
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“We have identified this type of collisions between two powerful objects as abandoned – as a “worst-case scenario” because it is largely out of our control and tends to occur in the course of dangerous collisions,” LeoLabs said in tweet.
They said that the Cosmos 2381 and SL-8 rocket bodies had smashed into each other, the collision resulting in thousands of new pieces of debris that would remain for decades.
This close encounter is significant as it illustrates how much space debris is flying in low Earth orbit.
According to LeoLabs, the layer of Leo that is only about 62 miles thick contains an estimated 160 SL-8 rocket bodies, along with its 160 payloads, which were deployed 20 years ago.
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This “bad neighborhood” in LEO, says LeoLabs, is located between altitudes of 950 and 1050 km, and continues to be hot due to debris collisions.
These collisions and near collisions in LEO remain on the minds of many.
Because in addition to human debris dead space, the LEO region is also considered close enough to Earth for transportation, communication, observation and strategic needs, according to NASA.
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In fact, LEO is where the International Space Station currently orbits and where many of the proposed future platforms will be located.
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