Clark School
This Site umd.edu

News Story

The Kessler Syndrome: 10 Interesting and Disturbing Facts

The Kessler Syndrome: 10 Interesting and Disturbing Facts

Artist depiction of rocket body explosion. An event of this nature can be prevented by releasing all the stored energy from inside a rocket, a process known as “Passivation.” – Credit: ESA.
Artist depiction of rocket body explosion. An event of this nature can be prevented by releasing all the stored energy from inside a rocket, a process known as “Passivation.” – Credit: ESA.

Low Earth Orbit is the home of the International Space Station and of other thousands of satellites. It is also becoming a hazardous arena littered with mindless space junk and inoperable spacecraft orbiting at outrageous speeds.

It's a reality quite like Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity, and it's called The Kessler Syndrome. If it plays out like the most pessimistic scenario, prepare to spend a few years without cell phone reception, Internet, and a five-day weather forecast.

What is The Kessler Syndrome?

The Kessler Syndrome is a theory proposed by NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, used to describe a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in LEO. It’s the idea that two colliding objects in space generate more debris that then collides with other objects, creating even more shrapnel and litter until the entirety of LEO is an impassable array of super swift stuff. At that point, any entering satellite would face unprecedented risks of headfirst bombardment.

 

Read More ...

September 16, 2014


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

These Are The Countries on Earth With The Most Junk in Space

Woerner: Cooperation should reign as spacefaring nations clean up Earth orbit and venture beyond ISS

From satellite fleet operators, a plea for more regulation of satellite mega-constellations

University of Maryland Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research Announces Keynotes & Event Sponsor OrionAST

UMD Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research Announces 2016 Workshop and Call for Papers

The People in Your Neighborhood:  Dr. Moriba Jah, Space Garbage Man

Junkins presents Theodore von Karman Lecture

Bits and Pieces Of DMSP-13 No Threat To ESA Mission

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts