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Detection of Space debris in Low Earth Orbit about to beginkann beginnen
Today, Virgin Orbit launched the first privately funded Austrian satellite into orbit. ADLER-1 will use two devices to detect (micro) space debris that can be dangerous for satellites and astronauts. The small satellite is a trailblazing example of the “fast space” sector, due to its realization time of just 15 months from blueprint to successful launch. Three organizations with Austrian roots are carrying out the project: Christian Federspiel’s Findus Venture GmbH is financing the project. Spire Global provided the satellite’s bus and ground stations, built the space radar detector in Glasgow, Scotland and also organized the launch. The Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) developed the highly sensitive impact sensor and coordinates the scientific analysis. ADLER-1 is expected to communicate its first dataset within a few weeks.innen.
Why space debris is dangerous
Gernot Grömer, Director of the Austrian Space Forum: “Space debris is a challenging issue we have to address as quickly as possible. According to current estimates, up to 170 million objects that are larger than 1mm orbit the earth. Even the smallest particles with a diameter of just a few millimeters can develop the impact force of a pistol bullet. But most of the available data is based on computer simulations. To know more about the size, amount and distribution of space debris will not only contribute to the protection of spaceflight, such as weather satellites and communication satellites, but also preserve the unhindered access to space for future generations. To that end, the Austrian Space Forum has teamed up with Spire Global, an expert when it comes to tailor made nanosatellites and swiftly adjustable projects. We are proud to be a part of this trend-setting venture, that will see a satellite from blueprint to orbit in no more than 15 months’ time. As the first privately financed satellite from Austria, ADLER-1 will make an important contribution to environmental protection beyond the earth’s atmosphere.”
Nanosatellite ADLER-1 (Austrian Debris Detection Low Earth (Orbit) Reconnoiter) is 30x10x10 cm in size and weighs 6 kg. It is a technology demonstrator for two new types of space debris detectors. The two instruments, a radar device and an impact sensor, are intended to track down micro space debris in earth orbit at an altitude of around 500 km, the so-called low earth orbit. Existing computer models of the European Space Agency ESA, which currently provide information for determining the distribution, number and size of space debris, can be supplemented or adjusted with the in-situ data. ADLER-1 was launched with Virgin Orbit: A modified Boeing 747 launched a rocket at an altitude of 11 km, which put ADLER-1 into its 500 km orbit.
Space Debris Detectors on Board ADLER-1
ADLER-1 combines two complementary (micro) space debris detection systems:
the radar-based detection of debris particles comes from Spire Global. Particles that fly by in the vicinity of the satellite are recognized and their relative speed is measured. The OeWF built a deployable piezoelectric plate, so to speak a “space microphone”, to determine the impact energy of the particles.
“This launch allows us to continue the accelerated pace of this important project with Findus Venture GmbH and the OeWF to study the space debris environment in Low Earth Orbit so they can verify and complement space debris models even more quickly,” said Peter Platzer, CEO of Spire.
ADLER-1 in a nutshell:
- Nanosatellite, measurements: 30x10x10 cm, weight: 6 kg
- ADLER-1 is a trailblazer example of fast space and will prove that innovative detection technology can be realized through swift and flexible projects using nanosatellites: “From blueprint to orbit in 15 months.”
- ADLER-1 will gather in-situ data on (micro) space debris and thus complement or even correct computer simulations.
- ADLER-1 will test two new methods to detect space debris: a radar-based detector and a space microphone
About the Austrian Space Forum
The Austrian Space Forum is one of the world’s leading institutions conducting Mars analog missions, thus paving the way for the future human exploration of the Red Planet. Experts from a broad variety of disciplines as well as the spaceflight sector constitute the core of the OeWF’s continued endeavors that on a regular basis include national and international institutions from science and industry to work at the cutting edge of scientific research. On doing so the Austrian Space Forum is using its excellent contacts to opinion leaders, politics and media to further and internationally propagate Austrian top-level research. The Austrian Space Forum also contributes significantly to inspiring and educating young people in the sectors of science, technology and engineering. The OeWF offers internships to students and pupils, its experts supervise scientific papers on a regular basis. www.oewf.org www.oewf.org
This article is available in: German
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