Satellite tracking company LeoLabs said Wednesday that the obsolete objects can fall 39 feet apart from each other and that there is a 10% chance they will collide around 8:56 PM ET. The company considered the potential collapse a “very high risk”.
LeoLabs tweeted: “This event remains extremely high risk and is likely to continue like this during the closest approach.”
These two objects were a defunct Soviet navigation satellite called Paros, said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. [Kosmos 2004] Which was launched in 1989 and the Chinese missile stage.
As of Tuesday, the objects – which have a mass of about three metric tons – were in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 615 miles, LeoLabs said.
Since the objects are located high above the ground, they do not pose a danger to anyone on Earth. However, a collision could cause more debris to spin around the Earth, which could increase the risk of future collisions.
Debris could threaten astronauts, too.
Dan Cyberly said, “If this turns into a collision, it is likely that thousands to tens of thousands of new pieces of debris will cause a headache for any satellite that goes out into low Earth orbit, or even farther than that.” LeoLabs CEO, according to Interested in the business. “It’s probably a much bigger problem than many people realize.”
As of February this year, there are 128 million debris objects in orbit, according to European Space Agency. Approximately 34,000 of these objects are larger than 10 cm.