ESA satellite avoids high-risk collision with Russian space debris
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.
On Monday, for the first time, we performed a set of manoeuvres to avoid a high-risk collision w. #SpaceDebris created in the #Cosmos1408 anti-satellite test last year.This was a difficult #CollisionAvoidance manoeuvre.👏👏to our #Sentinel1A Control Team & Space Debris Office pic.twitter.com/dl5OnTAlON— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) May 18, 2022
Even though the Cosmos satellite orbited more than 200km below #Sentinel1, the energy released during its explosion pushed fragments of it all the way up, intersecting our orbit. pic.twitter.com/cPzIDDvkze— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) May 18, 2022
"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.