Jump to content

Sorting The Space Trash


Recommended Posts

Space Daily via SPX:

We all sort our rubbish by category, allowing recycling to take place. It's easy to understand why. Different items require different processes for disposal.
For years, we have been growing increasingly aware of the trash problem in low Earth orbit. Debris from whole satellites to tiny flecks of paint poses a hazard to anything we launch. It can damage spacecraft or even claim lives. With more people expected to travel into space in the years ahead, and plans being drawn for even more infrastructure in orbit, space junk is a problem that needs to be addressed soon.

For many years, we have been somewhat passive in our approach to space debris. We have tried our best to track it with radar. Large objects can be found, but a multitude of small particles still escapes our notice.

We sometimes move spacecraft around to avoid contact with debris. One interesting episode happened recently in the distant geostationary orbit belt, roughly 36,000 kilometres above the equator.

A "zombie" satellite had drifted out of control, and was threatening to wander into the transmissions zones of some communications satellites. Careful work and monitoring by mission controllers helped to avoid any problems.

Sometimes, you just have to take a bullet. Spacecraft get hit by particles, and can be damaged or rendered useless. In 2009, two satellites actually collided in low Earth orbit, which provided a dramatic demonstration of the shape of things to come.

Thoughts are turning to ways of actively fighting the space debris problem. Boffins have proposed collector satellites that would patrol space and actively snare garbage. Large panels or nets could be used to capture smaller particles. Then there's talk of firing laser beams to change the orbits or destroy small objects.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • 1695658195
  • Create New...