Friday, 2 September 2011

Amount of Junk Floating In Space Reaches New, 'Dangerous' Levels

According to a new report, the amount of debris floating around the Earth's orbit is at a critical level, putting NASA equipment such as satellites and spacecraft in danger.

The report, released by the National Research Council, claims that budget deductions by NASA are making the situation worse, resulting in the need for more large-scale equipment.

Despite NASA's current efforts to track debris, 'millions more pieces' remain unmonitored as they are simply too small to track. US scientists have warned we are now at a “tipping point”, with enough space waste in existence to cause a serious problem for spacecraft.

Pictured above: The International Space Station, which is also under threat.

Due to the ever-increasing amount of rubbish floating in orbit, constant collisions are taking place which thicken the already dense cloud surrounding the earth. The International Space Station is also in danger from debris.

The author of the report, retired NASA scientist Donald Kessler, stated: “We've lost control of the environment. NASA needs to determine the best path forward for tackling the multifaceted problems caused by meteoroids and orbital debris that put human and robotic space operations at risk.”

As it stands, there are approximately 22,000 objects in orbit that are large enough to be monitored by officials on the ground, yet this number continues to rise alarmingly. Kessler's paper is quick to list a number of reasons the problem is yet to be solved, one of which includes limited NASA budgets and a lack of 'unified management'.

The National Research Council has urged NASA to develop a plan to help combat the issue. Furthermore, it called for an increase in the amount of research used to monitor 'meteoroid and orbital debris'.


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