Scientists Deliberate Cleaning Space Junk
The U.S. space agency
At that speed, the impact of even a cherry-sized piece of metal is enormous, said the deputy head of ESA Space Debris Office,
"At this velocity both objects will shatter into pieces, this will be bad for the object concerned but it will also be bad for the rest of the environment, because we will add additional fragments which again then are candidates for future collisions," said Krag.
Scientists monitor the path of space debris and sometimes reposition satellites or even the
"The U.S. Space Strategic Command is in possession of those sensors, it's a relic of the Cold War, to detect approaching missiles. And it is a global network of radar and telescope stations on the ground observing space continuously all of the time," said Krag.
Loss of communications, GPS or a scientific satellite could have potentially devastating effects, so scientists are exploring options for removing dangerous debris.
"That means planning a mission that goes there, approaches, rendezvous and captures the object, berths it, and then does the controlled orbit maneuver. This is a very complex technology that will be required for that," explained Krag.
Several designs are in consideration, such as a satellite that fires beams of charged particles that gradually slow down flying objects, dragging them into the atmosphere where they will burn up.
Smaller objects could be shot down with ground-based lasers, while large ones that could break up into thousands of smaller pieces may be brought down with special robotic satellites.
Even though such missions could cost up to
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