ESTCube-1 Survives Again

ESTCube-1's first photo of the Earth Photo Credit: University of Tartu
8/5/2013 10:18 AM
Category: Sci-Tech

ESTCube-1 survived a second potentially disastrous situation on Sunday morning, having safely passed by a cloud of space debris.

"ESTCube-1 survived the second incidence! [...] According to the latest information from the US Joint Space Operations Center, the Evil Space Junk missed our satellite by 940 meters,“ said the ESTCube-1 Facebook page.

On Friday, the Estonian satellite's path narrowly circumvented an initial cloud of debris, formed four years ago as a consequence of the collision of the Iridium communication satellite and the Russian military communication satellite Strela-2M, reported uudised.err.ee.

It is a regular occurrence for such satellites to pass by dangerous debris from a farther distance, of about 10 kilometers, but this time the threat was more of a reality. Still, team leader Mart Noorma said Thursday that experts had calculated only a "less than 10 percent" chance that the satellite would be destroyed.

"Hopefully we won't start riding along with this large cloud of debris [...] but there are no guarantees,“ Norma told ETV yesterday. "We are, of course, constantly standing on guard, despite the fact that there is nothing we can do [to prevent a collision]."

The student-built nanosatellite, which measures just 10 centimeters on a side, was launched on May 7 and is orbiting the Earth at 7.5 km per second. The satellite's mission, to conduct an innovative electric solar sail experiment, was set to start in August and will take up to two months to complete.


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