VIDEO: Revealed – how NASA avoided a mid-space collision with a Russian spy satellite

Scientists at NASA have revealed how one of their spacecraft came within a few hundred feet of a catastrophic collision with a defunct Soviet-era spy satellite last month.

The NASA craft, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, was on the same trajectory as Cosmos 1805 – and the two craft were closing at a combined speed of 27,000 miles per hour. On the morning of March 29 this year, NASA scientist Julie McEnery received an email warning her of the approaching collision, which would have resulted in an explosion releasing the equivalent of energy from two and a half tons of high explosive.

“My immediate reaction was, ‘Whoa, this is different from anything we’ve seen before!’” McEnery recalled at nasa.gov.

Calculations showed that on April 4 the craft would, with luck, pass within 700 feet of each other and for 30 milliseconds, they’d occupy precisely the same area of space. Despite there being lots of satellites and other space junk orbiting the earth, spacecraft usually do not get anywhere near as close to each other.

Scientists learned to their cost in 2009 that they had to treat near approaches with extreme caution, after another defunct Russian satellite, Cosmos 2251 smashed into a communications satellite, Iridium 33. NASA only realized that their worst fears had come true when they started to track clouds of debris floating away from the collision site. It was the first recorded satellite to satellite collision.

In what NASA described as the equivalent of orbital air traffic control, McEnery and colleagues fired Fermi’s thrusters to take the craft out of harm’s way. The telescope maps the highest-energy light in the universe.

“A huge weight was lifted,” McEnery said. “I felt like I’d lost 20 pounds.”

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.