DailyDirt: Who's Going To Clean Up All The Space Junk?
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Putting satellites and spacecraft into low earth orbit is getting easier and less expensive all the time, but that also means we're possibly creating even more orbiting space junk around our planet -- without any way to remove this garbage. Man-made space debris is already a problem, and as we shoot more stuff up into space, it could become an even bigger problem. There are at least a few folks who are concerned about space pollution, but there aren't that many workable solutions (yet).
- DARPA is working on a project called Phoenix which aims to create new satellites that can cannibalize older satellites in orbit for parts. DARPA wants to demonstrate robotic satellites that can salvage reusable parts such as antennas from obsolete satellites in geosynchronous orbit, but there are quite a few technological and logistical hurdles to overcome. [url]
- China's space program has achieved several significant milestones, but its anti-satellite capabilities could turn low earth orbit into an unusable space junkyard. In 2007, China shot down one of its own weather satellites and created a cloud of space debris. [url]
- One proposal to reduce space debris in low earth orbit involves deploying tons of micron-scale tungsten dust in space -- which would collide with other debris and slow down the space junk so that it burns up in the upper atmosphere. About 100 tons of cosmic dust from micrometeorites gets captured by Earth's gravity on a daily basis, but it's too spread out to have a significant effect on man-made space junk. Unfortunately, deploying 40 tons of man-made tungsten dust, at about $1000 per pound, is a fairly expensive mission... [url]