SPACE JUNK PILING UP IN ORBIT

Dy’er Sez: In an interesting bit of cosmic symmetry, my brother-in-law Joseph, my eldest daughter Kayla, and I were just discussing this very thing over the weekend. We even toyed with ideas for a possible solution (giant nets to trawl the trash, magnets to attract smaller debris, and so on).

There is no doubt that the junk which is zinging around in Earth’s orbit right now is an absolute menace. It also doesn’t say much about us humans or our ability to care for our environment. Unfortunately, with most of the focus on the clean up of our planet being centered on how much money can be made on the process and not how to simply do an effective job, I don’t think that this (or any other environmental mess, for that matter) will see any resolution any time soon.

Story from the Telegraph:
 
We can’t ignore litter, even in space

by Geoffrey Lean

‘Gravity is the big challenge,” says Thomas Sean Kelso, and if you had his job you’d probably agree. For his mission is to track the rapidly accumulating amount of junk orbiting the Earth.

Since the US abandoned its Vanguard 1 satellite half a century ago, space has been filling up with litter almost as rapidly as our city streets. And no one has made any effort to clear it away.

Discarded rocket stages, dropped spanners, even chunks of deep-frozen astronaut urine whizz around the globe at up to 25,000 miles per hour, in what Newsweek calls the “debris cloud” of some 750,000 objects larger than a marble, and even more smaller ones.

Last February, two satellites crashed into each other, producing another 100,000 bits of debris. Even the smallest pieces endanger satellites, valued at £10 billion. A fragment a millimetre across has the impact of a bullet; one the size of a tennis ball is equivalent to 25 sticks of dynamite. This summer, the International Space Station had to be raised out of orbit to avoid a particular bit of rubbishapidly accumulating amount of junk orbiting the Earth.

READ MORE 

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