Russian cargo ship redocks with space station

Jul 29, 2012
International Space Station

An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft has redocked with the International Space Station after an aborted attempt five days earlier.

The Progress cargo ship had separated from the station a week ago to perform engineering tests and try out a new and had been due to reconnect with the station on Tuesday. But problems developed with the avionics in the docking system.

The second attempt early Sunday was successful. Video streamed from Russian mission control reported no problems.

The Progress already had delivered its cargo, and was being kept at the station to load garbage. When full, it will be released and burn up upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The docking system is to be removed from the Progress and sent to Earth for examination and refinement.

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The Singularity
not rated yet Jul 29, 2012
Has anyone ever done a study into the effects of burning metals & plastics in the upper atmosphere. It sounds like an extremely enviromentaly unfriendly way of doing things.
Are there reusable systems on the way/in use?
roj2003
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
Quote " Estimates for the mass of material that falls on Earth each year range from 37,000-78,000 tons." This is from meteorites ONLY. I would guess that 'artificial' debris might amount to less than 100 tonnes per annum...or...No Worries?
Nydoc
not rated yet Jul 29, 2012
@roj2003 That's what I was thinking. Wouldn't there also be a good chance the solar wind would blow it away if you did it high enough?
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2012
. Wouldn't there also be a good chance the solar wind would blow it away if you did it high enough?

Stuff doesn't burn until it gets lower down. That high (e.g. at the height of the ISS) and the atmosphere is not enough to get you a lot of heat. If the solar wind could blow away stuff at the height it burns then there would be no atmosphere at that height, either (and consequently nothing would burn because there would then be no friction)

Short answer: no.
rwinners
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
Has anyone ever done a study into the effects of burning metals & plastics in the upper atmosphere. It sounds like an extremely enviromentaly unfriendly way of doing things.
Are there reusable systems on the way/in use?


Well geez, do you know how much space garbage the planet consumes in a year? If it is true that life began in space... or at least was delivered here through space, Spock only knows how much mutant stuff is bombarding us every day!
GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
Has anyone ever done a study into the effects of burning metals & plastics in the upper atmosphere. It sounds like an extremely enviromentaly unfriendly way of doing things


As others have already correctly pointed out, there's a steady rain of material from meteors falling into Earth daily. I would also like to point out terrestrial sources. Plants are very good at taking materials out of soil and releasing them as aerosols in the air. The ocean is also a big source of airborn harzardous materials like mercury. For example, there are two forms of mercury that can be found in the air, one harmful and the other not. Coal plants release some, but the ocean is such a large source of the dangerous form of mercury that it overwhelms human sources to the point of non-detection. The area of the US with the most hazardous mercury is Florida, because it is surrounded on three sides by ocean. A single volcano (and there are always several active globally) is capable releasing tons also
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2012
but the ocean is such a large source of the dangerous form of mercury that it overwhelms human sources

That really depends on how close you are to one of those human sources. Next to a chemical factory or out in the countryside will make somewhat of a difference. Handling broken CFL tubes you may well exceed the 'ocean-induced mercury poisoning' level.

Averages are only meaningful when an individual human is smeared accross the entire global surface.
GSwift7
not rated yet Jul 31, 2012
That really depends on how close you are to one of those human sources. Next to a chemical factory or out in the countryside will make somewhat of a difference.


That has always been the assumption, but a study completed recently by the EPA was not able to detect increased levels in the air no matter how close they checked. It was a big surprise for them, and you can bet your ass that the EPA would not say that unless they had to. They found increased airborn mercury in the midwest but there was so much coming from wind blown dust that they were not able to discerne any detectable increase around coal power plants. The natural amount of mercury in the air is just so much that it makes any input from a human source statistically insignificant in the data. Not to mention that filter systems are a lot better than they were 50 years ago.
rwinners
not rated yet Jul 31, 2012
@gswift7 Got a web reference for that? I did a google search, but there is way to much data out there to hunt through.

And, of course, the EPA measures stack emissions and therefore knows just how much each plant is putting into the air. Four Corners is the biggest and worst of American poluters.
GSwift7
not rated yet Aug 01, 2012
@gswift7 Got a web reference for that? I did a google search, but there is way to much data out there to hunt through.


I could not find the specific paper I read a few months ago, but here's one of the most recent comprehensive analysis.

http://www.atmos-...2010.pdf

Sources vary widely on estimated amounts (partly because of different classifications), but direct human Hg is about 1/3 of the total in most estimates. Of that 30%, North America is somewhere between 5 and 10%. So, for all of NA, it's about 2% of global Hg. Individual sources in the US are such small contributors that thier effects are barely noticeable against the background levels from all other sources. The oceans release more than half of the natural Hg globally, which is just under half of the total from nature and man. Be carefull though, error estimates are around 25% with all these numbers.
GSwift7
not rated yet Aug 01, 2012
In the specific paper I read, they did a transect of locations from Pennsylvania to somewhere else, maybe Ohio? Deliberately in accross locations where there 'should' have been a notable increase due to known stationary sources. What they found was that there wasn't any detectable change in the air. Keep in mind that the total mercury in the air is so small that it's difficult to detect in the first place, and a single human source is a drop in that small bucket. Even near volcanos, probably the largest single point sources in the world (though they only represent 1% of the total), it is difficult to actually measure what's coming out of them. Mercury doesn't like to react with other things, so chemical detection is further impaired by that.