Re: Yet more FengYun debris

From: Duncan Kitchin (
Date: Thu Feb 15 2007 - 00:28:22 EST

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    I'm not claiming any particular expertise here, but wouldn't the result 
    be heavily dependent on the relative masses? I'm assuming (possibly 
    incorrectly) that the mass of the satellite was much greater than that 
    of the asat payload. Given that, the combined momentum of the resulting 
    debris cloud wouldn't be much different from the prior momentum of the 
    satellite. I'm not at all sure that one can make any particular 
    deductions about the relative velocity of the asat by observing the 
    resulting debris cloud. I'm also reasonably sure that one is unlikely to 
    say very much at all about the post-collision kinetic energy relative to 
    the pre-collision kinetic energy. Only the momentum would be conserved.
    Just my 2c, of course...
    Christian Kjśrnet wrote:
    > Greg,
    > If the ASAT weapon indeed had struck the satellite head on, the result would
    > have been numerous pieces of debris (maybe up to 50%) traveling in the
    > opposite direction, and some pieces would have fallen to the ground. No such
    > pieces exist. That would have been like a head on collision between two
    > cars, where the two wrecks and most debris normally come to rest about at
    > the collision point.
    > Given that all the debris pieces now travel in the same direction as the
    > target and in about the same orbital plane, one can conclude that the ASAT
    > weapon did strike from behind, with approximately a coplanar trajectory; and
    > since most debris pieces have a higher orbit than the target satellite had
    > originally, this indicates that the ASAT weapon struck from slightly below
    > the satellite.
    > To conclude: The ASAT weapon probably struck from behind and slightly below
    > the target satellite.
    > Christian
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