A SWARM of satellites has nearly missed space trash after European Space Agency officials had hours to make an emergency maneuver.
The ESA planned and conducted the evasive action in just four hours after the satellite swarm suddenly moved onto a crash course to avoid damage from the sun.
The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission consists of three spacecrafts circling the Earth to study the planet’s magnetic field.
ESA officials said they oftentimes have to adjust the course of the satellite swarm, but the situation has gotten a little trickier thanks to the sun.
“The sun has been moving into the active part of its eleven-year cycle when more and more powerful solar flares can bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere,” Forbes relatado.
“This increases the density where the satellites orbit, slowing them down, burning more fuel, and threatening to drag them back to the surface.”
Devido a esta, Swarm was moving to higher orbits to avoid the pull when the ESA detected a space trash threat on June 30.
While changing the course of the swarm under normal conditions is no big deal, officials got the alert that the swarm mission could come to a crashing halt in just eight hours.
This is a very short amount of time to plan a maneuver.
“Such a move typically requires a lot of checking that the alteration doesn’t put it at risk of other collisions and also figuring out how to get back to the original path it’s supposed to be on when the threat has passed,” Forbes reported.
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Contudo, the European Space Agency saved the day in just four short hours.
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After avoiding the space trash, they got Swarm back on track just a day after the near-miss.
This comes as a massive asteroid the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza is set to skim past the Earth on July 17.