The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is conducting a controlled re-entry of Megha-Tropiques-1 (MT1), a decommissioned satellite jointly developed by India and France to study tropical weather and climate. The satellite was launched in 2011 and exceeded its intended operational lifespan until 2021. Rather than letting it become space debris for over 100 years, ISRO is using its remaining onboard fuel to precisely maneuver the satellite for a controlled atmospheric re-entry, predicted to splash down in the Pacific Ocean.
Significance of Controlled Re-Entry Satellites
Significance of Controlled Re-Entry Satellites in orbit are essential for various purposes, including communication, navigation, earth observation, and scientific research. However, once a satellite completes its operational life or becomes inoperable, it becomes space debris, which poses a significant risk to other satellites and spacecraft. The accumulation of space debris in orbit can lead to collisions, which in turn can generate more debris and create a chain reaction known as the Kessler Syndrome. Hence, space agencies worldwide are focusing on developing safe and reliable methods to dispose of decommissioned satellites and reduce the risk of space debris.
ISRO’s Expertise in Satellite Re-Entry ISRO has demonstrated its expertise in controlled re-entry of satellites by successfully bringing back the crew module of the uncrewed test flight of the GSLV-Mk III launch vehicle in 2014. The module was launched to test the crew escape system for India’s future human spaceflight program, Gaganyaan. ISRO used the module’s onboard motors to make a controlled descent and land safely in the Bay of Bengal.
ISRO’s Approach to Megha-Tropiques-1 Re-Entry
ISRO is using its extensive expertise and resources to execute the controlled re-entry of Megha-Tropiques-1. The agency has involved experts across multiple domains, including the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, the National Remote Sensing Centre, and the Indian Meteorological Department. The experts have analyzed the satellite’s orbit, atmospheric dynamics, and ocean currents to predict the location and time of the satellite’s re-entry.
ISRO’s Plan for Safe Execution
The re-entry of Megha-Tropiques-1 is a complex process that requires precise maneuvers to ensure that the satellite re-enters the earth’s atmosphere at the right time and location. ISRO has planned a series of orbital maneuvers to bring the satellite to a lower altitude, followed by a controlled atmospheric re-entry. The agency is closely monitoring the satellite’s trajectory and will provide regular updates to the international space community.
ISRO’s Efforts to Reduce Space Debris
ISRO is committed to reducing the risk of space debris and has taken several measures to achieve this goal. The agency has implemented guidelines for spacecraft design, operation, and disposal to ensure that they do not contribute to space debris. ISRO has also signed agreements with other space agencies to share information and collaborate on space debris mitigation measures. Additionally, ISRO is working on developing technologies for active debris removal and collision avoidance to further reduce the risk of space debris.
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