A spacecraft could be about to collide with space debris above Earth

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Solar Orbiter may crash into space debris as it flies around Earth later this week.

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The spacecraft continues to fly past its main task of exploring the Sun.

As it begins its flight journey, it will come very close. At its closest, it would be only 460 km away from us, officially in low-Earth orbit.

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That means it could collide with the same blanket of space debris that has threatened the International Space Station.

The presence of junk in space means there is little risk of Solar Orbiter colliding with it.

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But even a trip to this region is not free from danger.

The spacecraft will fly through another well-used orbital region, called geostationary orbit, which is again surrounded by space debris and other satellites.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said it would closely monitor the situation and, if necessary, conduct collision avoidance maneuvers.

Any evasive action will be taken on Friday, about six hours before the close.

However, the flyby offers a unique opportunity for science – it can collect data on Earth’s magnetic field, which can be compared with ESA’s Cluster and Swarm mission to get more of this highly variable field around our planet. Detailed, three-dimensional description can be given. ,

Following the flyby, regular Venus gravity assists will bring the spacecraft over the Sun’s never-before-seen poles, providing new details about how activity on the Sun generates space weather.

Once the orbiter rises above low earth orbit and moves above geostationary orbit, it is out of the risk zone. It should be about an hour after its minimum distance from Earth.

As the mission zooms in, flying by with less energy than it came with, it and its mission teams will never have to consider space debris again.

The spacecraft launched last February and will orbit the Sun to capture high-resolution photos and measure the solar wind as part of a mission led by ESA and partly funded by the UK Space Agency Will happen.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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