Satellite re-entry

Satellites sometimes re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and may crash on the surface. Since some of these satellites derive their energy from radioactive materials, radiation releases cannot be excluded in the event of impact. The NEOC is responsible for locating the radioactive debris and for organising the corresponding radioactive monitoring campaign, if such a crash should actually occur on Swiss national territory. Here, it can rely on the resources of the Emergency Organisation Radioactivity (EOR).

The European Space Agency (ESA) informs the NEOC of the imminent re-entry of a nuclear-powered satellite in Switzerland. In turn, the NEOC informs all cantonal police services. As well as discussing possible measures to protect the population, it is important that the NEOC receives reports and observations on the crash from the general public.

The NEOC immediately mobilises various EOR monitoring resources. The most effective instrument in such an event is aerial radiometry. In deploying a Swiss Air Force helicopter, equipped with a highly-sensitive measuring device, it is possible to scan and survey a 70km2 area in the space of three hours.
In addition to the mobilising experts and measuring equipment, the NEOC also requests immediate information on wind conditions from MeteoSwiss. As the national contact point, the NEOC is also responsible for keeping the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed.