Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
by AJ Plunkett
Chances are that you’ve used a GPS device, watched a live television broadcast of a major event on the other side of the world, laughed or cried at the status update of a social media friend, or checked the weather forecast — events all made possible by the almost indispensable satellites that impact many lives across the world.
Yet those satellites are threatened by the now thousands of pieces of satellites and spacecraft that have broken apart in orbit – many times accidentally, some times not – and are speeding through space at several hundred kilometres per second.
This threat gets potentially worse with each new satellite or rocket launch.
Saturday, January 5th, 2013
by AJ Plunkett
It’s getting more and more crowded around Earth — about six months ago there were 22,000 manmade objects counted in orbit around our planet. Then, in October, the upper stage of a Russian rocket disintegrated in low Earth orbit.
Add another 500 bits and pieces to the count.
The counting is being done by the Joint Space Operations Center, which has the task of cataloging and tracking any piece of debris 10 centimeters or larger circling near-Earth. Or, more importantly, near any of the still-functioning satellites also orbiting Earth.
Monday, March 26th, 2012
Late in the evening on January 28th, 2012 the rocket thrusters on the International Space Station roared to life. It was an emergency action, an evasive maneuver to protect the $100 billion floating laboratory from a collision that could have easily dislodged one of the delicate solar panels or torn apart one of the life-sustaining pressure locks. The cause of this maneuvering was not a competing satellite, shuttle, asteroid or alien craft but space junk left over from the destruction of a satellite 5 years earlier. Anyone familiar with the work of Donald Kessler and the Syndrome that bears his name was not surprised. For more than three decades advocates of the Kessler Syndrome have been preaching about the growing problem of leftover debris from satellites, command modules and discarded space craft: space trash. Read more.
Thursday, February 16th, 2012
There’s lots of trash talk going on out there, and for good reason. Currently, NASA is tracking as many as 16,000 pieces of space junk over 10 cm in size, also for good reason. Impact from one of these pieces of space junk can cause colossal damage to costly satellite systems. To remedy the issue the Swiss Space Center announced yesterday, February 15, that it was launching the CleanSpace One project.
Last week we blogged about solar storms sweeping Earth’s space junk away. Earlier in January we highlighted some ways that scientists are tackling the growing problem. Taking the matter into their own hands, the Swiss team will be creating a janitor to the skies, which will serve as the prototype for a family of future space sweepers.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
We humans are a messy bunch and space is no different. A few weeks back, UrtheCast blogged about space junk, and how there’s currently over 6,000 tons of the stuff orbiting the Earth. We also looked at some methods scientists are developing to reduce the amount of this potentially dangerous debris. What scientists have recently suggested is that these solar flares can rid space junk from the Earth’s orbit, and it’s anticipated that this will occur at a greater frequency over the next couple years as Earth enters the two most active years of the sun’s 11-year solar flare cycle:
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
By Theras Wood
The term “Space Junk” can conjure images of torn plastic bags and broken toasters floating about in the ether, but artificial orbital debris (a technical name for manmade space junk) is actually composed of anything from paint flakes to dead batteries. On second thought, space junk sounds like pretty innocuous stuff, even if over 6,000 tons of it orbits the Earth. Read more.