Roscosmos claims an ISRO satellite made dangerous pass of a Russian satellite

The incident has drawn focus to the increasing traffic in outer space, particularly in low-Earth orbit.

The Russian space agency has said that a satellite sent into space by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently had a close pass-by with a Roscosmos satellite. According to a tweet from the official handle of Roscosmos, India’s cartography satellite Cartosat-2F missed a collision with Russian Kanopus-V in the outer space last Friday, 27 November. The 700 kg Indian sat came as close as 224 metres to the 450 kg Russian satellite.

Roscosmos referred to the information given by TsNIIMash and analytical centre of the Warning Automated System of Hazardous Situations to state that at 7.19 am IST the satellites brushed dangerously past each other. Both the satellites are meant to carry out earth’s remote sensing.

 Roscosmos claims an ISRO satellite made dangerous pass of a Russian satellite

The rising amount of debris is a cause for concern as the man-made objects orbiting the Earth can lead to dangerous collisions with space vehicles. Image credit: University of Miami

WION quoted an anonymous source with expertise on the matter to state that two satellites in orbit should maintain the distance of at least one kilometre to safely pass by. The minimum distance of 224 meters is “scary” and the incident can be considered to be a collision miss. The report added that generally, “when two satellites are predicted (based on calculations) to make a close pass, a decision is taken to manoeuvre one of them away in advance (usually days ahead)”.

Although the Russian side has made the matter public, ISRO is yet to comment on it. Also, it is not clear why the Indian satellite went that close to the foreign satellite.

This incident again brings to focus the increasing traffic in outer space, especially the low-Earth orbit. All space agencies use certain prediction techniques to calculate and maneuver the path of their satellites. But there is a chance that the calculations do not predict the path of other satellites correctly leading to collisions. Satellites also need to steer clear of any space debris.

Hinting to the speedy increase in space debris, a few months back scientists had noticed space junk in broad daylight for the first time.

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