Two Satellites on a Collision Tonight over Pittsburgh

Two Satellites on a Collision Tonight over Pittsburgh

Two Satellites on a Collision Tonight over Pittsburgh

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By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor of In MilitaryInCyberDefense and In Space News.

According to LeoLabs, two defunct satellites, one a retired NASA satellite and the other an experimental U.S. Payload launched in 1967, have a 1 in 20 chance of colliding Wednesday night over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The odds of a collision went up mid-day Wednesday from 1 in 100 to 1 in 20 in large part based on information that one of the two satellites, the Gravity Gradient Stabilization Experiment (GGSE-4), had a 60-foot (18 m) boom trailing behind it. No one knows which way the boom is facing, which complicates the calculation.

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) orbits the Earth in this illustration.
(Image: NASA)

If there is a collision, Pittsburgh skygazers should see what looks like a burst of shooting stars as the satellites collide at 32,800 mph.

More concerning, the debris created by such a collision would threaten any satellites operating near the collision altitude and any spacecraft transiting through the area.