ESA satellite dodged space debris

One of the satellites of the Swarm mission dodged a fragment of space debris just a few hours before the collision. This is stated in a message published on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Swarm Mission

The Swarm mission consists of three spacecraft launched in 2013. They are designed to study the Earth’s magnetic field. Two spacecraft (Swarm A and Swarm C) are moving almost “side by side” in the same orbit. Initially, its height was 460 km, but later it was reduced to 300 km. The third spacecraft is in a higher 530-kilometer orbit.

Swarm Satellite (concept). Source: ESA–P. Carril, 2013

Recently, ESA decided to raise the altitude of the Swarm A and Swarm C orbits again to compensate for the influence of increased solar activity (because of it, the earth’s atmosphere is “inflated”, which accelerates the departure from orbit of spacecraft). For this purpose, engineers have developed a program that includes performing 25 course corrections. However, on June 30, 2022, the ESA received an alarming message. Data from the US Space Surveillance Network indicated that in just eight hours, Swarm A will collide with a fragment of space debris.

Evasive maneuver

These days, such situations are not uncommon and ESA regularly organizes evasion maneuvers for its satellites. However, as a rule, the aerospace agency has at least 24 hours to prepare them. The situation was further complicated by the fact that just a few hours after the collision, Swarm A had to perform a planned course correction. At the same time, engineers also had to take into account Swarm C. Since the devices work in conjunction, any abrupt change in the orbit of Swarm A could interfere with the scientific program of the mission. 

Fortunately, ESA engineers coped with all the difficulties and successfully corrected the trajectory of Swarm A. In the future, the satellite performed all the necessary maneuvers to raise the altitude of its orbit.

Earlier we told that the X Prize Foundation intends to announce a competition for the collection of space debris.

According to

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