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Jan 27 β€’ 10 tweets β€’ 4 min read
Too close for comfort... 😳

Two large, defunct objects in #LEO narrowly missed each other this morning β€” an SL-8 rocket body (16511) and Cosmos 2361 (25590) passed by one another at an altitude of 984km. πŸš€βš οΈ #SpaceDebris LeoLabs platform illustrati...
1/ Based on our radar tracking data, we computed a miss distance of only 6 meters with an error margin of only a few tens of meters.
2/ It's important to note that this conjunction occurred in one of the "bad neighborhoods" we've talked about before: 950 - 1050 km. 🏚️
3/ This region has significant debris-generating potential in #LEO due to a mix of breakup events and abandoned derelict objects. πŸ›°οΈπŸš€πŸͺ¨
4/ In particular, this region is host to ~160 SL-8 rocket bodies along with their ~160 payloads deployed over 20 years ago. πŸš€πŸ›°οΈ

*There were 1,400 high-PC conjunctions involving these rocket bodies between June - September 2022 alone.
6/ Why's this a big deal? πŸ€”

We've identified this kind of collision β€” between two massive derelict objects β€” as a "worst-case scenario" because it's largely out of our control and would likely result in a ripple effect of dangerous collisional encounters.
7/ Had the SL-8 rocket body and Cosmos 2361 collided, it likely would've resulted in thousands of new debris fragments that would have persisted for decades.
7/ It's imperative that we not only focus on collision avoidance but also debris mitigation and debris remediation to combat #SpaceDebris. This requires investing in debris removal technologies and missions. πŸ§ΉπŸ—‘οΈ
8/ ✍️ For more information on combatting #SpaceDebris, read (or listen) to @MattShouppe's piece on the best practices to cleaning up #space.

9/ To learn more about potential disasters in #LEO, including "dead object on dead object collisions," check out Dan Ceperley's guide. #SpaceDebris


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More from @LeoLabs_Space

Jan 27, 2020
1/ We are monitoring a close approach event involving IRAS (13777), the decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983, and GGSE-4 (2828), an experimental US payload launched in 1967.

(IRAS image credit: NASA)
2/ On Jan 29 at 23:39:35 UTC, these two objects will pass close by one another at a relative velocity of 14.7 km/s (900km directly above Pittsburgh, PA). Our latest metrics on the event show a predicted miss distance of between 15-30 meters.
3/ These numbers are especially alarming considering the size of IRAS at 3.6m x 3.24m x 2.05m. The combined size of both objects increases the computed probability of a collision, which remains near 1 in 100.
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