Чтение на английском – Satellites and Space Debris
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Чтение на английском - Satellites and Space Debris
The Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik 1, on 4 October 1957. After that, at least ten countries launched a total of 6,600 of them. 3,600 satellites are still in orbit, and approximately 1,000 of these are active.
When satellites reach the end of their life, some fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. However, there are more than half a million objects orbiting the Earth. Most of them are space debris: pieces of old satellites or launch vehicles. Some of these are small (5 cm in diameter) and some are very large. The Envisat is an old European Space Agency satellite which weighs 8,000 kilos!
The Oscar-winning movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, shows what can happen when debris hits a space station. Space debris travels at around 28,000 km/h, so even a small piece can badly damage a satellite.
Experts are taking this problem very seriously. In the USA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tracks the debris carefully. When debris seems likely to hit a spacecraft, NASA changes its orbit. In Japan, scientists are developing a 700-meter-long magnetic net (like a fishing net), to catch debris.
In Switzerland, the Swiss Space Center is working on CleanSpace One. This is a special satellite which chases and catches old satellites. Working at a speed of 28,000 km/h, at a height of around 700 kilometers, it will hold the old satellite with a special arm. Then both satellites will fall into the atmosphere and burn up.