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Solving the space junk problem: How much debris is there?

Solving the space junk problem: How much debris is there?

It’s starting to get crowded in there and space is more limited than you think.

Tampa, Florida – It’s starting to get a little crowded in low Earth orbit as humans continue to fill a limited space with debris.

The problem isn’t new, but with space becoming a commodity and what looks like a slew of new companies getting funding for launches, there isn’t much room left in an already crowded area.

According to the latest NASA reports, millions of pieces of debris are being tracked as they orbit the Earth I mentioned the account. Objects can travel at speeds of up to 27,000 miles per hour, which can damage both satellites and spacecraft.

NASA has said in the past: “The increase in the amount of space debris increases the potential danger to all spacecraft, especially the International Space Station, space shuttles, and other spacecraft that carry people on board.”

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Astronaut Mike Hopkins costume: CBS News The Air Force and Space Forces are constantly monitoring debris in space in hopes of getting close to the International Space Station for some relief.

“thats it [constantly] Something we always worry about here and have to pay attention to.”

It’s a problem that has popped into his head over the years, including in 2015 when flight controllers on the International Space Station performed a “pre-determined evasion maneuver” Steer clear of any replacement part of the Minotaur.

In 2020, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke about the space debris issue and said things are getting worse.

“from @space station He maneuvered 3 times in 2020 to avoid the wreck. There have been three highly potential link cases in the past two weeks.”

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But there isn’t always time for an orbiting lab to get out of the way, as was revealed earlier this year when a piece of junk in space left a tiny, pencil eraser-sized hole in the International Space Station’s robotic arms. The International Space Station has crashed. .

In such cases, astronaut Peggy Whitson told CBS News, “You need to find shelter, get on your rescue vehicle, and prepare to leave the station.”

According to Steve Stitch, director of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, crews will use their capsules as “lifeboats” that can be up and running within minutes.

Astronaut suits are also kept in each crew’s capsule for the duration of their stay on the International Space Station, making them convenient and quick to fit in the event of an emergency.

So how do we fix the problem before it’s too late? Well, that depends on who you ask and whether all global parties are willing to cooperate.

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In March, NASA and SpaceX took a step to make space safer to navigate the crowded field of spacecraft, satellites, and debris currently orbiting the planet we call home.

the two signed a joint agreement It allows for a deeper level of coordination, collaboration and data sharing between the two parties. The main focus of the agreement is on linking and avoiding collisions between the NASA spacecraft and the expanded group of Starlink satellites.

In terms of cleaning, as you can imagine, no crew can remove the amount of space debris just above Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis.

But that doesn’t mean that some agencies and companies don’t try.

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over there remove depression, a satellite launched into space in 2018 to conduct a series of experiments to capture space debris. the European Space Agency He also recommends several measures to combat the growing problem of space debris, such as visiting “high object density” areas to remove up to 10 objects per year.

While change doesn’t happen overnight, something can happen: the way we think.

“In a way, this is an old human story,” said David Pogue, CBS Sunday Morning reporter. “Whether we’re getting rid of plastic or throwing away chemicals or burning fossil fuels, we don’t really think about the waste we leave behind.”

If you ever want to keep track of all the “things in space”, you can do so with an interactive map over here.