How many satellites are orbiting Earth?

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
"There are two main reasons for this exponential growth.

First, it has never been easier to get a satellite into space.

The second reason is that rockets can carry more satellites more easily — and cheaply — than ever before. "

Much as I hate to use the word, is not some form of control necessary?

Cat :)
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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I keep seeing more and more satellites orbiting when I stargaze. Last night I was out using my 10-inch Newtonian and 90-mm refractor telescopes, viewing Neptune, Jupiter, and Saturn. Several satellites passed by, some polar orbiting, and some equatorial orbits. Most were in the 4th to 5th apparent magnitude range. This is becoming more and more common when I view. At times, I view and see two or more satellites pass the field of view, one after the other. The night sky is getting filled with objects now.
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Rod, do you do any astrophotography? I should think that, with exposures of any length, you would get more satellite contamination? Surely this would be a real distraction, creating unwanted lines on photos. I suppose you could take them out with Photoshop or similar, but this would be an added nuisance?

Cat :)
 
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May 14, 2021
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Visibility is from twilight until closer to midnight, then sometime after midnight until morning twilight, longer periods in the summer, shorter periods in the winter. It's whenever the satellite is in the sunlight and we on the ground is in the dark. Most nights, heavens-above.com shows me anywhere from a dozen to 2 dozen satellites visible at my location. One night a few years ago, my wife and I camping sat and picked out about 20 visible satellites in a few hours, just watching and picking them out. Many are spent booster rockets.
 

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Rod, do you do any astrophotography? I should think that, with exposures of any length, you would get more satellite contamination? Surely this would be a real distraction, creating unwanted lines on photos. I suppose you could take them out with Photoshop or similar, but this would be an added nuisance?

Cat :)
Cat, no I do not take pictures and I am glad I do not. Sky & Telescope, and sometimes spaceweather.com and other sites, report periodic problems doing astrophotography now because of satellites passing by and leaving lines and streaks across the image.
 
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May 25, 2021
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A part of the reason is, a lot of the older satellites are not working anymore. And haven't been for some time now. Or their systems are not compatible with our new technologies. So they are abandoned and not used anymore. Adding to more Space junk to contend with. I had one of those old eight foot dishes, they had to move around with a motor. Controlled with the remote.
 
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I suspect that in the near future, i.e.: ~25 years, professional and amateur astronomical observations will have to be done via orbiting telescopes well above the Earth's orbiting space debris. Such would be a lucrative new business opportunity that could widen the fields of and further the knowledge of and general interest in Astronomy and Cosmology. And the government could tax the observation subscriptions. But those "pesky" communications satellites and space tours would no longer be a nuisance.
 
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May 25, 2021
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How would we clean up some of that old junk? Force it into reentry or push it out of Earth orbit and let it drift away ? There ain't no landfills in Space.
The more of it collecting up in orbit, is surely going to pose a problem eventually.
 
May 14, 2021
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Spacecraft are made of metals, composites, plastic, and the like.
So, doesn’t all this stuff burning up cause pollution of the air, pretty high up (hopefully), but it eventually mixes, n’est pas?
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Pogo,
I would guess that all external parts (or an overwhelming majority) are metallic and most unlikely to "burn" as in wood and plastics. If they are sufficiently heat resistant on the way up, they should be equally heat resistant on the way down. Of course, they may become red hot through friction with the atmosphere, but not producing the sort of pollution you suggest.
Cat :) :) :)
 
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Some of those parts are a Titanium alloy. I seriously doubt they would just burn up completely. A lot of that junk are orbiting just on the edge of Earths gravitational influence. I asked a friend of mine out at WSMR what he thought about all this. He said getting them into reentering the atmosphere would also be a daunting task. Costing in the trillions of dollars, and also require many missions to Space.

If so, he said he would start with the dead satellites first. They would be easier to do. And they would burn up and disintegrate. They have no heat resistance protection. It is becoming a problem of avoidance for future Space missions.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
I have found this, which might help:

When used as a fuel in commercial products and industrial processes, metals usually come in the form of a powder. Although, even if you have ground a metal block down to a powder, it still won't burn as efficiently as it could if you just use the oxygen in the ambient air.18 Feb 2018

Why don't metals burn?


Cat :)
 
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May 25, 2021
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I have found this, which might help:

When used as a fuel in commercial products and industrial processes, metals usually come in the form of a powder. Although, even if you have ground a metal block down to a powder, it still won't burn as efficiently as it could if you just use the oxygen in the ambient air.18 Feb 2018
Why don't metals burn?

Cat :)
Have you ever put a fire to a fine grade steel wool pad? They burn, we as kids knew this. Try it , you will see.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Clovis,
No, I have not tried that. But there is a difference between applying a flame to a finely divided substance, and something heating up by friction. Also, I don't know what there is in a wool pad - maybe some organic soap type detergent?

Cat :)
 
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Clovis,
No, I have not tried that. But there is a difference between applying a flame to a finely divided substance, and something heating up by friction. Also, I don't know what there is in a wool pad - maybe some organic soap type detergent?

Cat :)
Perhaps, but they sure would light up. I thought about it being an additive also. If you got them wet they would rust up.

Why it burns.
 
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