ISRO Plans Self-Reliance in Monitoring Foreign Space Objects
Representational Image

While increasing space junk is growing concern for every space agencies across the globe. Space  objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) including mega-constellation of satellites deployed by SpaceX's Starlink and China is making a close flyby -- less than a kilometer -- to India-owned Space objects. 

ISRO regularly carries out close approach monitoring for all space objects with Indian Space assets.In last year alone, ISRO monitored 4382 events with close approach distance less than 1 km to Indian LEO space assets and 3148 close approach events less than 5 Km with GEO objects during the year 2021.

The maximum number of threats objects were from fragments of Fengyun 1C (Chinese ASAT test in 2007) and Cosmos – Iridium Collision. While, 84 close approaches less than1 km were observed between Elon Musk promoted SpaceX-operated Starlink satellites and Indian Space Assets. 

Such close encounters of space objects leads to losses and penalties as in order to avoid collision with such space objects, Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre (CAM) needs to be carried out by thrusting the satellite with the fuel stored in the spacecraft that reduces the life of the spacecraft, due to fuel expenditure and disruption of payload operations.

Number of such manoeuvres (CAM) carried out by ISRO, to avoid collision, has increased over the last few years.

CAM is done by ISRO when the Indian space agency gets alerted by America's USPACECOM (United States Space Command), a unified combatant command of the U.S. Department of Defense, responsible for military operations in outer space, specifically all operations 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth's mean sea level.

On 20 October 2021, Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter (CH2O) and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) were predicted to come critically close to each other in lunar orbit. NASA and ISRO agreed that the situation merited a collision avoidance manoeuvre which was executed by Chandrayaan-2 on 18th October, 2021, well before the conjunction.

USPACECOM currently tracks using Space surveillance tracking Network and catalogues more than 25,000 space objects including debris and functional spacecraft in Earth’s Orbits. The number of debris that are too small to track are a few millions. 

According to ISRO, USPACECOM issued 543 conjunction alerts regarding the close approaches to the Indian operational assets. The number of alerts is expected to increase significantly in the coming years with the increase in the number of space objects especially due to proliferation of the large satellite constellations.

To analyze and assess such potential threats to India's operational spacecraft and to attain self-reliance in safeguarding the valuable space assets, ISRO will establish Space Surveillance and Tracking network with RADARS and Optical Telescopes under the project Network for Space Objects Tracking and Analysis (NETRA).

Radar and optical telescopes are the main ground based facilities for tracking space objects including space debris. ISRO said, "In order to track closely and frequently the operational spacecraft and the threat objects for estimation of their positions accurately, it is essential to have a network of observational facilities with wide geographical distribution."

The above data are given by ISRO's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) centre, which was launched in December 2020,  in view of ever-growing population of space objects and the ongoing trend towards mega-constellations of satellites.

Source - ISRO

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post
Like this content? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get latest updates.