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Infographic of the Day: Russian Satellite Crash with Chinese ASAT Debris Explained

March 17th, 2013
in econ_news, syndication

Analysts believe that on Jan. 22, 2013, debris from the destroyed Chinese satellite Fengyun 1C collided with a small Russian laser-ranging retroreflector satellite called BLITS ("Ball Lens in The Space"). BLITS is essentially a glass ball, 6.7 inches in diameter (170 mm). BLITS was used as laser ranging target by the International Laser Ranging Service for precision experiments.

Follow up:


After the impact, BLITS was knocked from its original orientation and is now spinning rapidly. Ground trackers are following at least two fragments of the BLITS satellite.

The BLITS nanosatellite was launched into a polar orbit by Russia on Sept. 17, 2009. The tiny satellite weighs 16.2 pounds (7.35 kilograms)

Two outer hemispheres of low-refraction-index glass surround an inner ball lens made of high-refraction-index glass. One half of the sphere is covered with an aluminum coating. The satellite rotated for stability and to achieve a precise orientation.

Find out how debris from a destroyed Chinese satellite collided with a tiny Russian satellite, in this SPACE.com Infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration


Space Junk and Orbital Debris Explained

The Fengyun 1C weather satellite was launched into a polar orbit by China on May 10, 1999. On Jan. 11, 2007 Fengyun 1C was intentionally destroyed. A "kinetic kill"anti-satellite vehicle was launched and intercepted Fengyun 1C at high speed. The collision shattered the satellite into many pieces.

The cloud of debris from Fengyun 1C has been spreading out as the fragments, traveling in different orbits, slowly move apart.









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