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Space debris experts confirm estimate for Phobos-Grunt reentry (Forwarded)

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Old January 25th 12, 08:08 PM posted to sci.space.news
Andrew Yee[_1_]
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Default Space debris experts confirm estimate for Phobos-Grunt reentry (Forwarded)

ESA News

25 January 2012

Space debris experts confirm estimate for Phobos-Grunt reentry

Before the reentry of Russia's Phobos-Grunt Mars probe on 15 January, ESA
established a final prediction for reentry of 17:45 GMT, referring to an
altitude of 10 km. Within the expected uncertainties, the prediction has
been largely confirmed by observations.

Refining the reentry estimates

Following the 15 January Phobos-Grunt reentry, the US Strategic Command
confirmed a reentry time of 17:46 GMT, referring to an altitude of 80 km at
46 deg S and 87 deg W, near the South American coastline. This corresponds
to a pass at 10 km altitude about seven minutes later -- very close to ESA's

"While this was an uncontrolled reentry, the location of the potential
impact area was largely over ocean, with a correspondingly low probability
of any detrimental effects," said Prof. Heiner Klinkrad, Head of ESA's Space
Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany.

Orbital data furnished by European sources, including France and Germany,
were also used to refine the reentry estimates. ESA communicated regular
updates to European civil protection authorities in the days leading up to
the reentry.

The US Strategic Command (US Stratcom) operates a network of radar and other
sensors that also track such objects in orbit.

The effort was also part of a comprehensive reentry prediction campaign for
Phobos-Grunt conducted by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination
Committee (IADC), a technical forum for the worldwide coordination of
activities related to human-made and natural debris in space.

IADC is an inter-agency forum for the worldwide coordination of activities
related to the issues of human-made and natural debris in space. Member
agencies include ESA, NASA, European national agencies and the Russian,
Chinese, Canadian, Japanese, Ukrainian and Indian space agencies.

ESA contributed data and analysis

In recent years, IADC members have developed a data communication network
specifically supporting hazardous reentry risk assessment, which allows the
exchange of tracking data and the refinement of reentry predictions.

ESA contributed data to the campaign and conducted analysis of pooled
contributions. The server for the network is located at ESOC, ESA's Space
Operations Centre, where it is managed by the Space Debris Office.

In addition to the Agency's decades-long and continuing involvement in space
debris research, including modelling, protection and mitigation of debris,
ESA in 2009 launched the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Preparatory

SSA -- detect, predict and asset risks

SSA aims to increase Europe's capabilities to detect, predict and assess the
risk to life and property for human-made space objects, reentries, on-orbit
collisions, potential impacts of Near-Earth Objects, and the effects of
space weather.

"The SSA programme aims to develop and enhance European capabilities to
provide accurate tracking of potentially hazardous space objects," says
Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of the SSA Office.

"This will increase warning times and boost prediction accuracy, helping
civil authorities to react in the most appropriate manner, protecting people
and property on Earth."

[NOTE: Images and weblinks supporting this release are available at
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Operatio...XUH8RXG_1.html ]


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