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Governments must start working urgently to remove orbital debris, which could become a catastrophic problem for satellites a few decades from now, a space science conference heard on Thursday.
Since 1978, the total of junk items whizzing around the planet has tripled, said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency's Space Debris Office.
"There is a wide and strong expert consensus on the pressing need to act now to begin debris removal activities," he said in an ESA press release at the end of a four-day conference in Darmstadt, Germany.
"Our understanding of the growing space debris problem can be compared with our understanding of the need to address Earth's changing climate some 20 years ago," he said.
The Darmstadt conference brought together more than 350 experts from Europe, North America and Asia, including specialists from national space agencies and industry.
They heard proposals aimed at removing the largest chunks of debris out of orbit at the rate of five to 10 items per year.
These pieces could be nudged into a death plunge in the atmosphere by netting or harpooning them from a robot vessel or bombarded by an ion cannon to deflect them onto a new course.
Another idea is to attach a "solar sail" to large items of debris that would be gently driven by the solar wind -- the particles blasted out by the Sun.
Originally posted by Xeven
We should build robot ships to collect "over years" and move that stuff to the moon for later use. It is all refined metals that can be melted and used later on a moon colony.
Originally posted by neo96
Of course don't think alloys are magnetic, but people get the idea..