Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Space debris problem getting worse, say scientists

Scientists sounded the alarm Tuesday over the problems posed to space missions from orbital junk – the accumulating debris from mankind's six-decade exploration of the cosmos.
In less than a quarter of a century, the number of orbiting fragments large enough to destroy a spacecraft has more than doubled, a conference in Germany heard.

And the estimated tally of tiny objects – which can harm or degrade spacecraft in the event of a collision, and are hard to track – is now around 150 million.

"We are very much concerned," said Rolf Densing, director of operations at the European Space Agency, pleading for a worldwide effort to tackle the mess.

"This problem can only be solved globally."

 The peril from debris comes from hypervelocity. Travelling at up to 28,000 kilometers (17,500 miles) per hour, even a minute object impacts with enough energy to damage the surface of a satellite or manned spacecraft.


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