Author Topic: 'Urgent need' to remove space debris  (Read 478 times)

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Offline EC

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'Urgent need' to remove space debris
« on: April 25, 2013, 02:35:35 PM »
From the BBC:

Many concepts are now being developed to grab hold of dead satellites in orbit
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There is now so much debris in orbit that the space environment is close to a cascade of collisions that would make space extremely hazardous, a major international meeting has concluded.

Its summary position stated there was an "urgent need" to start pulling redundant objects out of the sky.

Scientists estimate there are nearly 30,000 items circling the Earth larger than 10cm in size.

Some are whole satellites and rocket bodies, but many are just fragments.

These have resulted from explosions in fuel tanks and batteries, and from the high-velocity impacts between objects.

Upwards of 10cm is trackable with radar, but there are tens of thousands more pieces that are smaller and move unseen.
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“Start Quote

    Only active removal of five to 10 large objects per year can reverse the debris growth”

Prof Heiner Klinkrad Esa Space Debris Office

And it is the prospect of an increase in the frequency of catastrophic collisions among all this material that now worries the experts

More at link.

At the risk of sounding like a foam at the mouth Gaian - In 60 years we have so badly polluted low Earth orbit that it needs cleaning?
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: 'Urgent need' to remove space debris
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2013, 06:58:55 PM »
IT truly is amazing the crap we have left up there flying around.
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Offline Oceander

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Re: 'Urgent need' to remove space debris
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2013, 08:49:28 PM »
From the BBC:

More at link.

At the risk of sounding like a foam at the mouth Gaian - In 60 years we have so badly polluted low Earth orbit that it needs cleaning?

It's not so much about pollution as it is high velocity and a lack of atmosphere.  The little stuff becomes like tiny missiles racing around; when it hits something the impact can be ferocious.  The space shuttle windows were inspected after every flight to look for damage like this:

NASA has a webpage with some other images of the damage caused by micrometeorites in orbit - mostly due to stuff that got up there because of us:

It's almost a virtual certainty that space operations are going to leave debris so it's sort of inevitable that we'll need to figure out how to start clearing lanes through the stuff; otherwise we'll simply close ourselves in with a blanket of junk we can't get through.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 08:49:57 PM by Oceander »
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