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Kessler syndrome

Theoretical runaway satellite collision cascade that could render parts of Earth orbit unusable / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Kessler syndrome (also called the Kessler effect,[1][2] collisional cascading, or ablation cascade), proposed by NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) due to space pollution is numerous enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade in which each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions.[3] In 2009 Kessler wrote that modeling results had concluded that the debris environment was already unstable, "such that any attempt to achieve a growth-free small debris environment by eliminating sources of past debris will likely fail because fragments from future collisions will be generated faster than atmospheric drag will remove them".[4] One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges difficult for many generations.[3]

Space debris populations seen from outside geosynchronous orbit (GSO). There are two primary debris fields: the ring of objects in GSO and the cloud of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO).