The space is cluttered with satellites — both functional and defunct. As more and more objects are launched into space, the probability of a collision increases. Two computer scientists at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology-Delhi are now working on an algorithm that can predict if an object is on a collision course with a satellite upto a month in advance.
Using the algorithm, agencies like the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) or the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) can monitor the safety of the vital Indian satellites and take preventive measures, if any, if these satellites are at risk of being hit by a stray piece of space debris.
“At least 20,000 pieces of space debris is present in the low Earth orbit. The speed at which some of these are travelling is 7 km/second. If they collide with any active satellite, the damage will be similar to a bullet shot,” Sanat K. Biswas told ThePrint.
The US Department of Defense maintains a satellite catalogue on objects in Earth’s orbit. Its Space Surveillance Network tracks discrete objects as small as 2 inches (5 centimetres) in diameter in low Earth orbit and about 1 metre in geosynchronous orbit.
Currently, about 15,000 officially catalogued objects are still in orbit. The total number of tracked objects exceeds 21,000.
However, if an Indian satellite were at threat of collision, the country would depend on the US for information.