Space debris over Spain – images and analysis

A very comprehensive article, no rx   by Teresa Guerrero, of El Mundo, covering the general picture of the space debris “state of play”. There’s been a number of potential objects falling over the south of Spain the last couple of weeks; couple this with the WT1190F re-entry, and this has caused (understandably) a lot of media interest.

I was interviewed as part of this article, and the first priority is – of course – to assure the general public that the risk to them from space debris falling from the sky is practically zero. Since the number of people injured by space debris, since the first launch of Sputnik, is nil then this is a simple thing to explain, although ensuring that this fact is taken as such is the difficult part.

This is addressed by El Mundo right at the beginning of the article, which opens with this paragraph:

Cada cierto tiempo las agencias espaciales lanzan una alerta por la reentrada a la Tierra de algún fragmento de basura espacial, es decir, componentes de satélites, cohetes o naves ya en desuso que quedan vagando por el cosmos. Algunos trozos, como los que han caído durante la última semana en Murcia, sobreviven a las altas temperaturas que soportan durante la reentrada a la atmósfera y llegan a la superficie terrestre, aunque la mayoría cae al océano y hasta la fecha no se ha registrado ningún herido por la caída de chatarra espacial.


The original article (with video) in Spanish is here.

A Google-translated version is here.
Over the last few weeks, rubella
a number of objects that could be classed as space debris have been found in the south of Spain (in the region of Murcia to be precise). This has caused a lot of interest from the public and from the press. A report was published today in El Mundo, advice
covering some of the re-entries and giving a bit of background of what might (and might not) be considered as bona fide re-entries.

The distribution of the suspect objects is very telling. In a map created by El Mundo, cystitis
you can see the distribution of objects:

Particularily telling is the close cluster of objects 1, 2 and 5. These are all the same type (carbon-fibre spheres about 65cm in diameter) which show signs of high temperatures. An image of two of the spheres, taken by the EFE agency are here:

One of the spheres located in Calasparra (Murcia, Spain). Source: EFE
The first sphere discovered in Murcia, being removed by the Civil Guard bomb disposal team. Source: EFE/Guardia Civil.

Without receiving a report from those who hold the objects at the moment, both the class of object and the grouping seems to indicate that these objects are pressure tanks – typically used in launchers – and they come from the same re-entry event.

The other two objects are very different and bear more resemblance to objects from an aviation source rather than any space system .

The objects are currently being held by the regional centre for professional education in Cartagena.

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