Satellite Collision Could Doom the Hubble Telescope

Illustration for article titled Satellite Collision Could Doom the Hubble Telescope

It appears that the Hubble might end up as collateral damage from the recent collision between an Iridium and Russian satellite. Without another service mission, the Hubble may meet its end within a year or two.

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The collision has sent more than 600 pieces of debris whizzing around the Earth at 17,500 mph. At those speeds, shards can take out a spacecraft (and you don't even want to think about what it could do to astronauts on a spacewalk). NASA has calculated the chance of a catastrophic impact at around 1 in 185—just below their 1 in 200 threshold. A decision on whether or not to progress with the Hubble repair mission in May is expected to come down within the next week or two. [Discovery via Wired]

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DISCUSSION

GitEmSteveDave.com

Now can someone answer me this: If they are whizzing around at 17.5k MPH, and hit the Hubble traveling towards it at 5k, does that equal an impact of 22.5k? Is it more important how fast the debris is moving, or how fast Hubble is moving relative to it?