Space debris and communications satellites. How the capital monitors the orbit near the earth

Hundreds of objects can be seen in the sky over Moscow on a clear day. They are quite identifiable – these are satellites launched by humans into space. Thanks to these objects, mobile devices have a connection, online maps work and traffic jams are displayed.

Hundreds of objects in the Earth’s orbit are observed regularly, including in Moscow. Why scientists need it, where telescopes are installed and what to do with space debris – read in

Moscow actively supports scientific and innovative industries. Thus, the city PJSC “Interstate Joint Stock Corporation” Pennant “” together with PJSC “Radiophysics” granted the status of technopark “Radiophysics”. It allows you to get regional tax breaks and land lease benefits.

“Moscow’s techno parks are designed to accommodate and support high-tech companies, including research and development in the space field. There are currently two techno parks in the capital, created on the basis of the companies in the state-owned company Roscosmos – technoparks RKS and Precision Laser Systems,” says Alexei Fursin , Head of the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development.

Look for satellites around the earth

Ordinary offices, computers and office workers. You will not immediately guess that specialists who monitor outer space work here. Konstantin Kuzovov, Deputy Head of the MAK Vympel Information and Analysis Center for Space Surveillance, has worked here for more than 10 years. His department monitors space objects – those that move around the earth in circular and highly elliptical orbits at a distance of hundreds or thousands of kilometers. “Our main focus is artificial objects. It can be different satellites, such as communications or geodetic, says Konstantin Kuzovov.

Knowing where certain satellites are is necessary for several reasons. First, the database must be constantly updated.

“If we do not refine the orbit of a particular object, for example within a month, we will hardly be able to find it again in the sky. Secondly, it is necessary to check whether the orbits of the objects intersect. If we see a strong intersection, we can signal a possible collision, “specifies Konstantin Kuzovov.

You can also find out at what moment a particular satellite is flying over a particular point. And if one of the objects begins to fall, it will be possible to know in advance the point where it will meet the earth.

Most employees are involved in writing software, solving problems and building algorithms. By the way, almost everyone who works here is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Many come here during training. This happened to Alexander Pigulevsky, an engineer at the Information and Analysis Center. He has been with the company for four years.

E. Samarin.

According to him, there is time for research here, there is no reason to constantly solve some boring practical problems. You can paint the math and analyze, carry out an experiment. “Even at school, I became interested in physics. And I became more interested in mathematics at the institute, I felt the strength and power of this science, what problems can be solved simply by understanding how logical mathematical relationships work. Programming is just a tool, the tasks themselves are much more interesting “, says Alexander Pigulevsky.

space heat

The building houses a situation-adapted center where you can visually see the specialists’ work. On a large screen, data is visualized in 3D format – the earth and objects around it. Green dots are active satellites, red dots are out of order and gray dots are debris (small meteors captured by the earth’s gravitational field, or fragments of artificial devices).

“It looks like a swarm, but in reality there are gigantic distances here, and the satellites are small. In orbit, everything is really not as bad as in this demonstration,” explains Konstantin Kuzovov.

The largest circle of dots – space objects – is the geostationary orbit. On it, objects are constantly above a point on the earth.

There are also very small objects in the Earth’s orbit – cube sets, which are quite difficult to see. These are small satellites, they are designed for a short flight.

Small satellites are also planned to be launched by the company to the well-known entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk. As planned, about 12,000 satellites will provide the entire world’s population with access to high-speed Internet. More than 500 objects have already been sent into low orbit around the earth.

“This idea is certainly good, but it can create problems for those who observe the sky – do astronomy and follow space. In every square of the starry sky, plus or minus a few degrees, there will always be a satellite,” says Konstantin Kuzovov .

Mankind launched the first satellite into space in 1957. And now experts say that most of the objects around the earth are broken satellites or debris. Researchers around the world are considering how to clean up outer space.

First, there is a proposal to stretch the net and catch these objects as aquarium debris. But this is not very realistic. Some objects fly too fast, they will simply tear this net. The second way is a tugboat satellite. It flies up to the target, catches it and changes its trajectory. This technology has already been tested. It is true that it is more likely not for space debris in low orbit. It allows you to extend the life of objects in geostationary orbit.

Objects from the Earth’s orbit will sooner or later fall into the atmosphere and burn up. Sometimes fragments of satellites still reach Earth. Similar cases have already occurred in Russia and the United States. Objects from high orbits will fly there for thousands of years. The only way to get them out of there is to catch them.

“In the end, all the objects we put into orbit will become debris. The more objects in orbit, the more likely it is to collide with them. If a collision occurs, it will cause another series of collisions. Therefore, we will simply close our space for many decades, we will not be able to launch anything new there, adds Konstantin Kuzovov.

Look at the distance in the sky

In Moscow, as in other major cities, the sky is brightly lit. This is why telescopes are installed far from megacities, and best of all in the mountains. The company’s telescopes are installed in Blagoveshchensk, Ussuriysk, Kislovodsk, Krasnodar and other cities of Crimea.

They load the observation plan for each night. Devices are programmed in such a way that they follow a certain point at a specific date and time. Every day you need to refine the list of orbits, that is, the path along which the object flies around the earth.

But you can also look at the sky in Moscow. A telescope is installed on the company’s roof. Recently, new software was tested on it. This is such a training place where development is tested.

The telescope is covered with a white dome. Inside, it looks like a submarine, but only until a special observation window opens. The platform itself can rotate around its axis.

“Initially, people were involved in observations. Now, however, everything is being done to involve people in observations as little as possible. The software rotates this dome, the telescope, takes pictures and processes them. The images are then sent to the server. One person is needed, for example, to turn everything off in an emergency, to close the dome in the rain “, says Konstantin Kuzovov.

Such observations help to monitor not only the movements of artificial satellites. Experts even recorded meteors burning up in the atmosphere. If a space or artificial object begins to approach the planet, experts will be able to determine the place where it will meet the earth.


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