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Detecting an Ancient Civilization's satellite?

  1. Mar 8, 2012 #1
    If an ancient civilization were to have great lost technology and had previously shot satellites into orbit would they still be orbiting today, and if so would we be able to detect them without previous knowledge of them? Say 6,0000BC, 10,000BC, 15,000BC, 20k+BC? for the civilization times. I was just wondering if longevity can be reached for the longnin orbit.
     
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  3. Mar 8, 2012 #2

    Drakkith

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    Unlikely. Anything in low Earth orbit would have succumbed to drag already, and while I don't know for sure, I think that the larger orbits are fairly unstable over long periods of time. I would also limit discussion on anything about ancient civilizations having advanced technology, as that is almost guaranteed to be an topic that is off-limits per PF rules.
     
  4. Mar 8, 2012 #3
    according to wikipedia, nearly all orbits require "station-keeping" which amounts to small amounts of thrust over time to compensate for perturbations due to air-drag, solar wind, the gravitational field of the moon, etc.

    so unless these satellites had enough fuel in them to maintain station-keeping processes for such long amounts of time, then I doubt many would survive their parent civilizations

    as for detecting them... sounds highly unlikely based on our current technology. Right now we have a moderately difficult time detecting just planets. I'm not sure it would be easy to notice tiny little satellites from so many light-years away
     
  5. Mar 9, 2012 #4
    The LAGEOS satellites' orbits are expected to take 8 million years to naturally decay (in the absence of, e.g., collisions with man-made junk) JPL website on LAGEOS. I think we would know if anything like that were anywhere near Earth (at least if it were near enough to be in a stable orbit around the Earth).
     
  6. Mar 12, 2012 #5
    The moon is a satellite that has been orbiting earth for a long time, so it certainly is possible. However, the overwhelming majority of our current satellites are used for communications, and those are only useful in a low earth or geostationary orbit. Without some kind of automated system to make adjustments, they would most likely decay. If they have not decayed, we should be able to locate them with current technology although we would likely just think they were a piece of space junk.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2012 #6

    Drakkith

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    The existence of the moon in orbit after 4 billion years isn't quite proof that an artificial satellite could do the same, even if it is only for 20k years or so.
     
  8. Mar 12, 2012 #7

    D H

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