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  SES AMC-9 satellite anomaly, possible debris

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Author Topic:   SES AMC-9 satellite anomaly, possible debris
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 42988
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-02-2017 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AMC-9, a 14-year-old SES geostationary communications satellite, experienced a "significant anomaly" on June 17 and now may be falling apart.
"We have seen several pieces come off of it over the past several days," ExoAnalytic's chief executive officer, Doug Hendrix, told Ars [Technica]. "We are tracking at least one of the pieces. I would hesitate to say we know for sure what happened."

SES now states that it has reestablished contact with AMC-9 and is working to evaluate the status and define the next steps.

Tracking information received on 29 June had suggested that at least two separate objects were located in the vicinity of AMC-9. Their source has still to be determined.

...the current assessment is that there is no risk of a collision with other active satellites.

spaced out

Posts: 3110
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 07-04-2017 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At first glance it seems like a micro-meteorite impact imparting some westwards motion and significant spin, then the spacecraft breaking apart (perhaps due to spin) in the video.

However, the "large debris" in the video doesn't really behave in the way I would expect if it was a piece of the satellite breaking away from the spinning body. I would expect any thrown-off debris to move away in a straight line and at a constant speed, but if you look at the video the "large debris" appear to move in an irregular ellipse before turning back on itself.

The path below is plotted based on the center of the "debris" at 30 second intervals of the video, from 1:35 to 5:35. Obviously we don't the real elapsed time but it's not really relevant.

Allowing for the fact that the object may also be travelling away from or towards the ground, the true path might not be turning back on itself but rather curving significantly as it moves towards or away from our viewpoint, but even allowing for that the trajectory seems to be distinctly curved and showing changes in direction.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the images but I'd love to know the explanation for what we're seeing here.


Posts: 4437
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-04-2017 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One possibility is the second smaller object is exhibiting centripetal motion because it has not fully detached from the primary body.

All times are CT (US)

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