ESA satellite avoids high-risk collision with Russian space debris

Devdiscourse News Desk | Paris | Updated: 19-05-2022 14:35 IST | Created: 19-05-2022 13:58 IST
ESA satellite avoids high-risk collision with Russian space debris
Sentinel-1. Image Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

On Monday, May 16, Copernicus Sentinel-1A, Europe's Earth-monitoring satellite, avoided a high-risk collision with space debris created in Russia's Cosmos 1408 anti-satellite (ASAT) test in 2021, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

In a series of tweets, the agency revealed how the Sentinel-1A control team performed a set of difficult collision avoidance manoeuvres to avoid the collision. According to ESA, the satellite altered its orbit by 140 m in order to prevent a near head-on collision with a debris fragment, which was several centimeters in diameter.

"This near head-on collision was however unique, the situation evolved rapidly, was tricky to avoid, and we had <24 hrs warning. Quick reaction by teams at mission control, who managed to plan and execute an avoidance manoeuvre in a matter of hours, meant we safely avoided impact," the agency tweeted.

Sentinel-1A was launched on 3 April 2014 on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. The satellite carries an advanced radar instrument to provide an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery of the Earth's surface, regardless of whether it is day or night.

The Sentinel-1A radar satellite is part of Sentinel-1, a two-satellite constellation. Its identical twin Sentinel-1B was launched in 2016. The Sentinel-1 satellites are part of the European Union's Copernicus environmental monitoring programme and are operated by ESA.

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