Fun_People Archive
7 Oct
Satellite Operators Brace For Meteor Shower

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed,  7 Oct 98 13:53:53 -0700
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Subject: Satellite Operators Brace For Meteor Shower

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Craig, A.  1998.  Satellite Operators Brace For Meteor Shower.  TechWeb,
Oct 5, 1998 (2:26 PM).

Satellite operators are bracing their equipment for a massive meteor shower
next month, but opinion is divided over whether to expect a communications
catastrophe or just a gigantic fireworks display. When the Leonids meteor
shower occurs on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 this year, it will appear as a
spectacular visual show for observers on earth. For the several hundred
satellites providing telecommunications, broadcasting, and other signals,
however, the fast-moving sand-sized particles could cause damage and
disruption, said experts in the satellite industry.

Leonids is a meteor shower that trails the Temple-Tuttle comet as it passes
the earth every year. The comet is on a 33-year cycle and will be closer to
the earth this year than it has been since 1965. The majority of the
particles in the shower are smaller than a grain of sand, but will be
traveling at more than 200 times the speed of sound. The particles will
vaporize material on impact. This could devastate the electronics on board
one of the 800 satellites now orbiting earth. The impact of a satellite
outage was felt in May, when almost all pagers in the United States went
out of action after a technical problem with the PanAmSat Galaxy IV
communications satellite.

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