I have been reading that space debris is super dangerous and is an issue of greater and greater magnitude as time progresses. But I don't completely understand this.

Sure, a small particle the size of a sugar cube traveling at orbital speeds has a lot of kinetic energy that could do damage, but relative to satellites shouldn't these particles be traveling at similar speeds to their satellite targets due to Kepler's laws? What am I missing? Is this a result of non-circular orbits crossing paths?

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    $\begingroup$ The Space Exploration SE would be a better place for this question. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 22 '17 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ circular orbits can cross as well. $\endgroup$ – tfb Apr 22 '17 at 21:08

It would be rare for two satellites to be in the same orbit. The phase, ellipticity, and plane are different for every satellites. Two satellites could collide at right angles. This is pretty much what happened when an Iridium satellite collided with a Cosmos some years ago.


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