Can we observe waste from the ISS burning up?

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Roger Mullarkey

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Can we observe waste from the ISS burning up?
« on: 12/09/2010 13:30:03 »
Roger Mullarkey  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi there - I have a question for the Naked Astronomy team.
I understand that the ISS is regularly supplied by unpiloted spacecraft that also serve as disposal modules for waste products from the ISS and that these Progress modules are deliberately burned up in the earths atmosphere on return. My question is - can we observe this burning of the Progress modules from earth? If so, is there public access to a prediction website that calculates the observing time based on the observers latitude (similar to
Well done to all the Team on the Naked Astronomy podcast, I have really enjoyed the programmes so far and have learned of some of the most fascinating details. Thank you so much for making this facility available to download so freely from your website - you're efforts and generosity are greatly appreciated.
As a suggestion for the programme, perhaps you would consider introducing a segment dedicated to "rocket science" such as orbital  escape velocities/launch details/ISS/satellite positioning/interesting facts about near earth satellites. 

Many thanks again,
Roger Mullarkey,
Co.Kildare, Ireland. 
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/09/2010 13:30:03 by _system »


Offline SeanB

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Can we observe waste from the ISS burning up?
« Reply #1 on: 12/09/2010 16:12:05 »
You can see them burning up, but you have to travel near to where they are expected to land, that being the South Pacific. Generally the capsules are deorbited to impact somewhere where there are no shipping lanes, islands or anything other than a whole lot of pretty empty ocean, so that they can not hit anybody.

As to a site, try for a beginning, a free user supported predictor of what you can see from your area. Good to get a sighting of the ISS, Iridium satellites or any of the brighter orbital objects around the planet. If you like the service, consider giving them a donation to support them.