Risk Link Roundup

Link Roundup

Here are a few recent articles that highlight issues impacting the world of risk and insurance, including blogs and articles about FIFA corruption, whistleblower programs—both pro and con—and the supply chain in outer space.

Iran, Russia Reject Idea of Joint Oil Output Cuts with Saudi Arabia
Reuters: Oil-producing countries looked unlikely to reach a deal to lift languishing prices at a meeting on Friday after Iran, Iraq and Russia swiftly rejected a surprise proposal that appeared to have been floated by Saudi Arabia.

16 Additional FIFA Officials Indicted for Racketeering Conspiracy and Corruption
U.S. Department of Justice: A 92-count superseding indictment was unsealed earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging an additional 16 defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with their participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.

Are Whistleblower Reward Programs Really a Good Idea?
FCPA Blog: Since the start of the SEC whistleblower program in 2011, the agency has awarded $54 million to 22 whistleblowers “who provided the SEC with unique and useful information that contributed to a successful enforcement action.”

Yes, We Need Whistleblower Rewards
FCPA Blog: Congress could not have been any clearer in its statutory design. Nor the SEC any more outspoken in its revitalized approach to government enforcement. Whistleblower rewards work.

Supply Chain Challenges in Space Exploration
OPS Rules Blog: Space supply chains are low demand and highly schedule driven. This might seem to be in contrast to commercial supply chains, which deal with high volume and compressed lead times. But applying the principles governing the commercial fast paced supply chains to the space supply chain can make it more agile and cost efficient.

GOCE Satellite Makes Fiery Fall to Earth

Bill Chater: GOCE Re-entry

As captured – and tweeted – by skywatcher Bill Chater in the photo above, the European Space Agency’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) re-entered the atmosphere on Sunday, making an uncontrolled fall after running out of fuel last month.

Launched in 2009, GOCE mapped variations in Earth’s gravitational field to help scientists better understand how gravity affects phenomena like ocean circulation and sea level. As Slate reported, the satellite only spent about a quarter of its time over land, so the odds were high for a safe crash into the ocean, but when an object weighing over a ton is in a free-fall to Earth, the risk is noteworthy.

While scientists knew that most of the satellite would burn up during approach, its 25 to 45 pieces of debris weighing up to 200 pounds each pose a significant threat. Without any means of controlling where it would land, officials from the ESA, Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee and United States Strategic Command closely monitored the massive “space debris” until it fell into the South Atlantic off the tip of South America, south of the Falkland Islands.

Since 2008, United Nations guidelines have attempted to reduce the danger of space debris, and scientists now build extra fuel and thrusters into space-bound objects to help control re-entry. GOCE had already been designed when the guidelines were issued, but future iterations would likely include these failsafes.

The risk of uncontrolled space debris is increasingly common, however. On average, one piece of tracked “space junk” falls every day and one intact defunct spacecraft or old rocket body comes back every week, BBC reported. Renowned astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson was quite thorough in pointing out that major space debris disasters like the one depicted in Gravity are scientifically questionable at best, but the everyday risks merit serious consideration as increasing what we send into space increases what we can expect to fall back. There are currently about 750 live satellites circling Earth and an estimated 500,000 pieces of space debris in orbit, dating as far back as the 1958 Vanguard 1 research satellite.

Take a look at these fast facts from Statista about the space junkyard:

Space Debris and Satellites infographic

More Space Risk – Two Asteroids Streak Past Earth

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the risk of space debris in our earth’s atmosphere. Well, according to NASA’s scientists, two asteroids are going to streak by today, within the moon’s distance of Earth. One, which actually already passed by at 5:50 am EST, was estimated to be between 32 and 65 feet in diameter and came as close as 154,000 miles out. The other, which will pass by at approximately 4:40 pm EST is only about 2/3 the size of the first asteroid and expected to come slightly closer.

As the Economist states:

Don’t start looking to hitch a ride on that alien spaceship just yet, though. Neither has a chance of hitting the planet. True, the lunar orbit, with an average radius of 384,403 kilometers, is puny in cosmic terms, but similar near-misses aren’t all that uncommon. A 10-metre sized rock is expected to pass within lunar distance every day, on average. And once a decade, one is likely actually to strike Earth’s atmosphere, though most of these would burn up on entry to the extent that they pose little or no threat. This would probably have been the fate of the 6 metre 2004 FU162 spotted on March 31st, 2004, just hours before the meteoroid whizzed by a mere 6,500 kilometres from Earth, setting a new record for the closest observed near miss.

As we see, there are many risks that are far beyond our current realm. We monitor them all.