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Orbital Debris   Photo Gallery

The NASA Orbital Debris Program Office has gathered pictures and graphics that are found here in the photo gallery section and throughout the site. These pictures are all considered open to the public and may be freely viewed or downloaded. The pictures and graphics provide a visual insight into the depth of orbital debris research. Click on the small thumb nail image to view it in its full size. To download an image, right click on the desired image and select "Save Picture As.." from the menu option of your browser.

 

Orbital Debris Radar


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Cobra Dane radar located on Shemya Island, AK. This phased array radar can detect and track objects as small as 5 cm and is a contributing sensor to the U.S. satellite catalog.

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70 m Goldstone antenna located near Barstow, CA. When operated as a bi-static radar, Goldstone is capable of detecting 2 mm debris at altitudes below 1,000 km.

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Kiernan Reentry Measurement Site (KREMS) located on Kwajalein Atoll. Four radars are visible: ALCOR (ARPA-Lincoln C-band Observables Radar), TRADEX (Target Resolution and Discrimination EXperiment), MMW (MilliMeter Wave), and ALTAIR (ARPA Long-range Tracking and and Instrumentation Radar) .

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Eglin FPS-85 radar located near Ft. Walton Beach, FL. This phased array radar is a dedicated sensor to the U.S. satellite catalog.

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Haystack and HAX radars located in Tyngsboro, MA. These radars collect 600 hrs of orbital debris data each per year. They are NASA's primary source of data on centimeter sized orbital debris.

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Orbital Debris Optical Telescopes


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3 m Liquid Mirror Telescope (LMT). This unique telescope used a pool of mercury spun in a dish at 10 rpm to form the primary mirror. The main limitation of the telescope was that it could only point vertically. The LMT was used to optically measure the low Earth orbit (LEO) debris environment. The telescope was located in Cloudcroft, NM and was closed in 2001.

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32 cm CCD Debris Telescope (CDT). This transportable telescope has been used to survey the near geosynchronous orbit regime for space debris. The telescope was most recently deployed to Cloudcroft, NM, but was shut down in 2001.

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Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing (AMOS) site. This optical sensor suite includes the 3.67 m Advance Electro-Optical System (AEOS) telescope, a 1.6 m telescope, two 1.2 m telescopes, and three 1 m Ground Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) telescope installation.

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A Advance Electro-Optical System (AEOS) located at Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing (AMOS) site on top of Haleakala volcano, Maui, HI. This telescope is used to image satellites and measure spectra and albedo of orbital debris.

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The Michigan Orbital Debris Survey Telescope (MODEST). This telescope is located outside of La Serena, Chile at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The telescope is a 0.61/0.91 m f/3.5 Schmidt of classical design and is used for observations of the geosynchronous orbit regime. Observations are taken in two-week segments surrounding the new moon.

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Orbital Debris Impacts


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Solid rocket motor (SRM) slag. Aluminum oxide slag is a byproduct of SRMs. Orbital SRMs used to boost satellites into higher orbits are potentially a significant source of centimeter sized orbital debris. This piece was recovered from a test firing of a Shuttle solid rocket booster.

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Window pit from orbital debris on STS-007.

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Orbital debris damage seen during Hubble Space Telescope repairs.

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After in space repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope, the returned parts show many orbital debris impacts.

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An impact that completely penetrated the antenna dish of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Space Shuttle window being inspected for orbital debris impacts.

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STS-092 vertical stabilizer damage from orbital debris.

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Paint flakes captured by Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP).

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Solar Max satellite repair. Several metal louvers and thermal blankets were returned from the Solar Max satellite. Returned surfaces are a source of information on sub-millimeter sized orbital debris.

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Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) Orbital Debris Collector (ODC) was exposed to the space environment for 18 months. The ODC utilized an aerogel capture medium. Aerogel is a very low density material that can slow small particles down from orbital velocities and capture them without destroying them.

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View of an orbital debris hole made in the panel of the Solar Max experiment.

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Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was left in low Earth orbit (LEO) for 5.7 years before being retrieved by space shuttle Columbia in January 1990.

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A close-up view of a panel from the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) spacecraft.

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Orbital Debris Reentry


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This is the main propellant tank of the second stage of a Delta 2 launch vehicle which landed near Georgetown, TX, on 22 January 1997. This approximately 250 kg tank is primarily a stainless steel structure and survived reentry relatively intact.

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This 30 kg titanium pressurant tank also survived the reentry of the Delta 2 second stage on 22 January 1997 but was found farther downrange near Seguin, TX.

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On 21 January 2001, a Delta 2 third stage, known as a PAM-D (Payload Assist Module - Delta), reentered the atmosphere over the Middle East. The titanium motor casing of the PAM-D, weighing about 70 kg, landed in Saudi Arabia about 240 km from the capital of Riyadh.

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Orbital Debris Misc.


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Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres (ODERACS) experiment. ODERACS deployed spheres and dipoles from the Shuttle to calibrate the Haystack orbital debris radar measurements. An ODERACS sphere being deployed is visible just over the Shuttle's tail fin.

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Orbital Debris Graphics

Computer generated orbital debris graphics displaying currently tracked debris objects. Several graphics taken from different view points.

 

 

 

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