Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mapping a year of space debris re-entries

The year 2012 saw as many as 72 uncontrolled re-entries of larger pieces of space debris.

Just for fun, I mapped the data for those 52 re-entries where the time of the re-entry is known to 15 minutes or better. The latter means that the general area over which the re-entry occurred can be established with some confidence.

click maps to enlarge

As can be seen from the kernel density map, Africa got the brunt of the re-entries last year. Common wisdom has it that most re-entries occur over the Pacific. That is true for controlled re-entries, but for uncontrolled re-entries that is not born out by the map above. There is a "but" in this all however: the aparent emptiness of the Pacific is, likely, an artifact of a lack of tracking sensors there. Re-entries over this part of the world will have larger uncertainties in their time of decay estimates, and hence they do not show up on this map.

1 comment:

amiratlanta said...

Is it unexpected that most of the space debris just happens to fall on the African continent and coastline?