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Cleaning up our space?

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posted on Sep, 21 2006 @ 03:40 AM
What with the shuttle being delayed due to various peices of debris being spotted nearby, i have been wondering how we are going to clean up our space around the earth? since one of the first space walks where a glove was lost, until one of the latest missions where various nut's ect were lost space has become more and more poluted. Whilst at first a nut may not seem that dangerous if it and a spacecraft were to travel towards each other then there surely has to be the potential for something like a nut to penetrate the skin of a craft and cause a potentially fatal accident?

Whilst some of this debris may enter the earth's atmosphere and burn up, a lot won't and will sit in space posing a potential danger, so just how are we going to clean up our space?

posted on Sep, 21 2006 @ 10:47 AM
Never fear, solidshot. The lawyers will save us all.

Oh yeah, you heard me right. Most of the major organizations concerned with space activities (NASA, ESA, NORAD, etc.) have some sort of program to track "space junk", but it seems that these efforts might not entirely altruistic. From the Physorg link above:

Not only can space junk damage or kill, you can get sued, too. There are lawyers who monitor space junk because there's a complex legal treaty about who is responsible when the man-made debris cripples a satellite worth hundreds of millions of dollars, said Mark Matney, a scientist in the orbital debris program at Johnson Space Center.

While the space junk that causes astronauts, astronomers, and lawyers the most severe migraines is certainly the small stuff (paint chips, bolts, etc.), there are efforts under way to limit the amount of large junk that we see in the future. One such program is the Terminator Tether, which is being plugged by a company called Tethers Unlimited. Seems they want to attach a relatively lightweight tether-release cylinder to every satellite launched in the future. When the satellite reaches the end of it's useful life a 5km-long tether is released. This tether interacts with the Earth's magnetic field to increase the total amount of drag on the satellite, slowly dragging it into the atmosphere where it is destroyed.

[sarcasm] As for the smaller pieces, maybe I should look into investing in a company that makes really big nets... [/sarcasm]


posted on Sep, 21 2006 @ 12:26 PM
a few ideas discussed in this thread...

Orbital Debris A Growing Problem

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