Indian satellite Cartosat-2F reportedly came too on the brink of a fellow earth observation satellite from Russia, Kanopus-V, reports across the web claimed. The incident happened during a low earth orbit on Friday, November 27, and therefore the same was subsequently reported by Roscosmos, Russia’s state-controlled space agency.
The latter cited data drawn from its TsNIIMash centre, a part of its Warning Automated System of Hazardous Situations in space, to state that the Indian cartography satellite, Cartosat-2F, came as close as 224 metres to the similar Russian satellite Kanopus-V before any hazardous collision was avoided. While ISRO initially didn’t discuss the matter, it reportedly acknowledged the incident later.
According to a report, ISRO chief K. Sivan acknowledged that Cartosat-2F and Kanopus-V did encounter an in-depth approach on Friday. However, contradicting Roscosmos’ statement, ISRO claimed that the 2 satellites were still 420 metres far away from one another.
Sivan also reportedly said that ISRO had been tracking Cartosat-2F’s trajectory for four days, which any route correcting manoeuvre would have only been done once the 2 satellites came within proximity of but 150 metres from one another.
Sivan also reportedly stated that such close approaches between satellites, particularly within the lower earth orbits, are increasingly common, and are generally not divulged or reported to the general public daily. He further claimed that an identical close approach between satellites also happened with a Spanish unit recently.
Given the increasing number of satellites being deployed in space, it seems fairly possible that route correction and collision avoidance moves would be a reasonably regular thing for space agencies to seem out for. India’s ISRO is, on this note, one among the world’s leading space agencies, helping ferry satellites of other nations to space also.
While some, just like the Cartosat-2F, is assigned to review the terrain and atmosphere of earth, others could also be assigned for communication and related purposes.
Similar moves in recent times include Elon Musk-backed SpaceX’s Starlink — a project that aims to place an entire constellation of satellites around earth, therefore surrounding our planet with a literal web of connectivity.
This can seemingly help connecting remote, difficult to access places like faraway mountain villages with internet and communication services, and also decrease the general cost of connectivity services.
Other satellites like Kanopus-V and Cartosat-2F are largely assigned to review changing weather patterns and help predict natural calamities, which successively can prevent widespread loss of life from natural disasters.
Given the vital work done by these satellites, space agencies typically deploy numerous technologies alongside manually monitoring satellite operations, of which collision avoidance is probably going one vital part.