On January 11, China conducted an ASAT test against one of its old polar-orbiting weather satellites, producing a ring of debris of at least 1,257 pieces large enough to be tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network. Dr. T.S. Kelso, senior research astrodynamicist with the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI), discusses the implications of the test, the largest debris-generating event in history, on other satellites in Earth orbit, showing:
- The evolution and distribution of the debris using AGI Viewer;
- The portions of Earth orbit affected by this event, including the increase in orbital conjunctions as reported in SOCRATES; and
- Predictions of the orbital lifetimes of debris, much of which will remain in orbit for at least a century.