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A rocket launch scatters hundreds of pieces of debris, typically in orbit. These debris are starting to create problems, threatening to destroy satellites, spaceships, and the International Space Station.  (Source: ESA)

This artist rendering of the tech trash in orbit around the Earth, shows that it is giving the Earth virtual man-made rings. This trash is a problem no one has a clear solution for.  (Source: ESA)
Space junk is increasingly becoming a headache for scientists and the communications industry

On February 10, a derelict Russian satellite traveling at thousands of miles an hour in Earth orbit smashed into a U.S. communications satellite in active commercial use.  The impact destroyed both satellites, scattering thousands of cubic miles of deadly debris in orbit.  The problem brought the problem of space trash, a growing issue, into sharp focus.

From space exploration efforts like the shuttle and space station missions, to commercial efforts like communications and GPS satellites, Earth is increasingly relying on access to space.  However, planning space launches is becoming the equivalent of taking a trip out through a mine field due to the thousands of fragments of rockets, satellites, and other manmade junk in space orbit.  This junk, traveling at thousands of miles an hour, has the ability to level a communications satellite -- a multimillion dollar loss.  In the case of a spacecraft, such an impact could turn deadly as the hull could be punctured.

Scientists and aerospace engineers are beginning to grow increasingly alarmed about the hazards posed by space trash.  In response, some are creating wild schemes.  Jim Hollopeter, a former rocket engineer, has cooked up a scheme to spray space trash with water, forcing it into lower orbits and eventually a fiery disintegration in the Earth's atmosphere.

Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory is considering two schemes -- one that would involve using space-based lasers to burn trash, another that would use a rocket that would zip around collecting trash.  And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 1996 Project Orion is being revived as a possibility.  This projected planned for ground-based lasers to zap tech trash like a broom. 

Jonathan W. Campbell who led Project Orion remembers that at the time it required technology that was out of reach.  He states, "I thought it would be a Buck Rogers thing."

He now says that for the price of a Shuttle launch -- $500M USD -- he believes such a laser can be built, nudging thousands of bits of garbage out of orbit in only a few years.  The key to his plan would be to use low power quick-pulse lasers, which, similar to the John Hopkins plan, would create small burns on space trash to lower its orbit.

Launchspace Training, a space consulting firm in Bethesda, Md. recently held an open space-cleaning ideas forum.  Mr. Hollopeter's idea was among those submitted.  Describes director Robert Russo, "There's a magnificent pool of knowledge and talent out there, and I think they're just not being asked."

He says that "techno-geeks who read science fiction and know nothing about space" submitted some of the most outlandish ideas.  Among such far-out suggestions were to use big nets and large magnets to snag refuse, or using high-energy lasers to atomize debris.  All of these ideas are entirely economically infeasible -- the magnets due to the lack of magnetic material in debris, the nets due to the virtual impossibility of proper control, and the lasers because they would only make the problem worse, creating smaller particles.

Ultimately, the best solution may be to simply decrease space littering in the future, to avoid more headaches.  Heiner Klinkrad, who runs the European Space Agency's Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, and is chairman of the global Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee has been driving home this point for years, and has only recently started to convince people.

Spacecrafts should be designed to not scatter bolts or straps in space as they release probes, and satellites should have means to exit orbit at their end of life, he says.  He states, "We need to treat space like a national park -- carry out what you carry in."

While this may be the wisest approach, the problem continues to grow.  The February 10 collision over Siberia in orbit created 600 more big fragments, while China's destruction of its Fengyun-1C weather satellite created with a ballistic missile created around 3,000 fragments.  In total an estimated 13,000-15,000 mid-to-large fragments are stuck in orbit -- giving Earth man-made rings of sorts. 

And while wild collection and removal schemes abound, not one has made it off the ground yet. In short -- this is one problem that isn't likely to go away soon.



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Go with the laser
By metasin on 3/13/2009 3:22:45 PM , Rating: 3
I don’t care if it is not practical. We are going to need it anyway to deflect the extinction causing meteor that is inevitably going to hit us. This junk could be used as target practice. We have about 4 years to get it right!




RE: Go with the laser
By icrf on 3/13/09, Rating: 0
RE: Go with the laser
By talikarni on 3/14/2009 9:36:50 AM , Rating: 3
There are a few possibilities...
MN4 (Apophis) came close in 2004. On 2013 January 11 it makes a close approach of .0989 AU and again in 2029 April 15 at .0317 AU.

Otherwise there are all sorts of unfounded "End of the Earth" things going around with the dates of 12Dec2012, 21Dec2012 and 22Dec2012...


RE: Go with the laser
By jaysan on 3/14/2009 10:31:41 AM , Rating: 1
Make some kind of " solar sail " type of contraption that's miles across, and have it constantly travel around orbital space, snagging junk as it goes along. Make it out of something strong like graphene.

Either that, or bring an asteroid from the asteroid belt into Earth orbit, and use its gravity to pull in all the space junk onto it . Then you can haul the asteroid away, or use a laser to convert part of its mass into thrust, to propel it away.


RE: Go with the laser
By MRwizard on 3/16/2009 1:06:47 AM , Rating: 2
do you know aything about space and gravity?


RE: Go with the laser
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/13/2009 3:35:19 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
We have about 4 years to get it right!


Do you know something that the rest of us don't?

Besides, everyone knows the only way to stop a celestial body on a collision course with earth is to send up a bunch of oil rig drillers in a modified shuttle and have them plant nuclear explosives inside the asteroid!


RE: Go with the laser
By quiksilvr on 3/13/2009 3:40:28 PM , Rating: 1
OMG! He's referring to the movie that's coming out called 2012, which is based on the Mayan calendar, because that's when it ends.


RE: Go with the laser
By rudolphna on 3/13/2009 4:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
no no it was that movie uh... oh crap what was it called... jason can you refresh my memory?


RE: Go with the laser
By Aeonic on 3/13/2009 5:25:32 PM , Rating: 5
Man, that's gonna really suck for the Mayans...


RE: Go with the laser
By Chocobollz on 3/14/2009 8:39:00 AM , Rating: 1
Two words, Nostradamus prophecy ;-)

Nostradamus prophecy and Mayan calendar are having 1 similarity, both are saying that the date of December, 22 2012 as the day when there's something who will change our life forever. I don't know if it were true or not, I don't really believe it myself but the said date were identical, it makes me believe that it couldn't be just a mere coincidence! There should be something happening on that date! ~_~


RE: Go with the laser
By Mitch101 on 3/14/2009 10:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
I am so going to rate you down if your wrong. Kidding aside no seriously in 4 years I'll be back. Hopefully.

My favorite Nostradamus video is 1981's The Man Who Saw Tomorrow which is 28 years old now. Watch the end for the predictions that haven't happened um or have they. Doh!

Something to keep in mind that gets lost when people talk about Nostradamus is that he used the bible a lot and was trying to decipher its meanings. If trying to determine the meaning of the bible is witchcraft then every Sunday I am committing sins.


RE: Go with the laser
By B3an on 3/14/2009 9:57:00 PM , Rating: 5
I discovered the missing first page of the bible in my attic last week.

It says... "All characters and events in this book are entirely fictional. Any relation to actual events or people is purely coincedental"


RE: Go with the laser
By freeagle on 3/17/2009 8:40:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
saying that the date of December, 22 2012 as the day when there's something who will change our life forever.


Yes, everyones life will be changed. Everyone will be one day older


RE: Go with the laser
By ThePooBurner on 3/14/2009 3:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
Armagedon.


RE: Go with the laser
By badgood on 3/15/2009 6:34:21 AM , Rating: 2
Just ask Michael Bay how he want to explode the space junk with style.


RE: Go with the laser
By omnicronx on 3/13/2009 4:26:27 PM , Rating: 3
Well how are we suppose to know that when its 2009.

I know the Mayan date is suppose to be sometime in december, but 12-9 = 3 ;)


RE: Go with the laser
By JonB on 3/14/2009 9:37:51 AM , Rating: 2
So true. What year is this? Who synchronized our calendar to the Mayan calendar?


RE: Go with the laser
By tastyratz on 3/13/2009 4:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
DAMN YOU MICK

I just logged in to post that reference till I saw your post. You stole my thought before I even had it!

On another note this is something I have posted about in the past with people replying that it is statistically a non-issue.

Why is it there are huge fines when people sink a boat and dont get it pulled back up, but no control over what just gets put up in space and left there? Trash is trash no matter what usable area its created in.


RE: Go with the laser
By RagingDragon on 3/13/2009 10:14:10 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Why is it there are huge fines when people sink a boat and dont get it pulled back up, but no control over what just gets put up in space and left there? Trash is trash no matter what usable area its created in.


Because governments love to fine individuals and to a lesser extent corporations; however, they don't fine themselves, their own agencies, nor each other. I doubt anyone gets fined when a military ship sinks and isn't recovered.


RE: Go with the laser
By captchaos2 on 3/13/2009 3:55:18 PM , Rating: 3
There's an anime series about this very problem called "Planetes". It's a good series, everyone should watch it.


RE: Go with the laser
By shaw on 3/13/2009 4:26:46 PM , Rating: 3
You're all forgetting one key point. You need to bring a chaingun on the shuttle!


RE: Go with the laser
By xsilver on 3/14/2009 9:39:48 AM , Rating: 2
We should create teams of lasers and have human controllers - it would be the biggest competition ever! ;)

That is of course until some 12 year old thinks its just a game and takes out the international space station :)


I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By Joz on 3/13/2009 3:10:57 PM , Rating: 1
Invent tractor beams, send shuttle with tractor beams into space, collect trash with tractor beams (and not active satilites) and then use earth to slingshot the big ball of trash into the sun.

lol. Or just a realy, realy, realy powerfull magnet.




RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By TSS on 3/13/2009 3:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
" All of these ideas are entirely economically infeasible -- the magnets due to the lack of magnetic material in debris,"

if you where beeing sarcastic, i'd say it's a bit too much :P

back in reality though, can't we create strong shield and use it to deflect the junk off into space or into the atmosphere?

if the junk is traveling at such a fast speed, might as well use the energy that's already in those objects. then all we need to do is supply rocket power to negate the action = reaction rule.


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2009 3:57:40 PM , Rating: 5
Nah dude. Just launch Rosie O'Donnell into the sun in a trip that requires several slingshots around Earth first. Her gravitational pull will attract all the space junk to her and then it will be incinerated in the sun after a few years travel.


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By omnicronx on 3/13/2009 4:29:15 PM , Rating: 5
I think that is too risky, we don't want to risk her gravitational pull affecting the earths orbit around the Sun ;)


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By GodisanAtheist on 3/13/2009 6:21:15 PM , Rating: 5
I believe that idea would get struck down on the grounds of being economically infeasible. It'd be cheaper getting those death-rays into orbit...


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By Mitch101 on 3/14/2009 10:28:01 AM , Rating: 2
Science does a lot of things that fail just to learn something. Besides isn't cow flatulence causing ozone depletion?


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By rtrski on 3/14/2009 9:53:10 AM , Rating: 2
Although the thought of launching Rosie O into space - preferrably without a suit - has merits of its own, I don't think it would work to help the space junk situation.

Her repulsive personality more than outweighs her gravitational attraction, and as a result you'd just be throwing a new chaotic disruption into the fray, deflecting debris into all sorts of new orbits.

Unless any of it was edible, in which case she might actually do some good. But then eventually you have to deal with Black Hole Rosie orbiting the planet. Not good.


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By RagingDragon on 3/13/2009 10:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Invent tractor beams, send shuttle with tractor beams into space, collect trash with tractor beams (and not active satilites)


I like it.

quote:
and then use earth to slingshot the big ball of trash into the sun.


No, no, no! It costs a small fortune to lift stuff into orbit, rather than destroying this valuable material we need to recycle it - convert the ISS into an orbiting recycling depot :).


RE: I have an IDEA!!!11111!
By Harkonnen on 3/14/2009 4:54:25 AM , Rating: 4
I also have an idea.

Launch a thick metal shield into the orbits where most space junk is estimated to be and just have it orbit the planet and get hit.

Like a 10 inch thick titanium shield about 15-20 feet in diameter. Place the control electronics and thrusters behind the shield and just let it go around and get dented.

Put enough fuel on board so it can adjust its orbit even if it hits a big enough chunk.

Have some sensors that will detect if the shield is being hit and how much to see if its worthwhile to send up some more.


Aliens, where art thou?
By aegisofrime on 3/13/2009 3:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
If there were intelligent life out there, they will puke at the sight of the crap orbiting the Earth. It probably speaks volumes about us as a species.

No wonder we don't get any alien visitations.




RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By PhoenixKnight on 3/13/2009 3:57:41 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe aliens have tried to pay us a friendly visit, but their ship was destroyed by orbiting space junk.


RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2009 3:59:04 PM , Rating: 5
Not according to people who live in trailer parks.


RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By Lerianis on 3/13/2009 6:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
Uh.... it's not just people in trailer parks who have been 'visited by aliens'. One very well publicized and UNEXPLAINED to this day thing was in an upper-middle class family in Britain, which they found metallic objects implanted in some of the family members brains that would have been IMPOSSIBLE to get in there without killing them by any earthly means.


RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2009 7:24:17 PM , Rating: 4
Ok seriously. Pull the stick out of your ass and learn to laugh.

Like any good geek, I believe in aliens. But I also have a sense of humor.


RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By xRyanCat on 3/13/2009 9:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
I thought he was joking...

He is joking, right?


RE: Aliens, where art thou?
By SlyNine on 3/14/2009 11:41:20 AM , Rating: 3
"Impossible". Yea I heard a lot of Moon Hoaxers claim this or that is impossible too, Fox and National Geographic even aired a program with them and somehow left out the actual explanations from the experts.. opps . I bet their are tons of brain surgeons out their going, I could do that easy.

Just because some guy on a TV show says it's impossible or unexplained unless our theory is true, doesn't mean it is so.


What we need
By ZachDontScare on 3/13/2009 3:52:49 PM , Rating: 5
What we need is a bunch of Space-Roombas! Someone get iRobot on the phone...




RE: What we need
By Omega215D on 3/13/2009 8:38:45 PM , Rating: 5
We could use Mega Maid. Just make sure she doesn't go from suck to blow.


RE: What we need
By Spivonious on 3/16/2009 9:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
Ludicrous Speed....GO!


RE: What we need
By HighWing on 3/16/2009 12:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
Thats exactly what I was thinking. Though maybe something more like Wall-E. A little space flying robot that went around collecting trash. Compacting the trash into small cubes/balls that could then be sent to burn up on atmosphere entry. The technology to do such a thing has been around for awhile now, so it should be pretty cheap to do.


Inaccurate slant in first paragraph
By Shadowself on 3/13/2009 5:40:11 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
On February 10, a derelict Russian satellite traveling at thousands of miles an hour in Earth orbit smashed into a U.S. communications satellite in active commercial use.


Quite untrue. They smashed into each other. In fact, since the U.S. commercial satellite was under active control from the ground and the team could very easily have know that an impact was likely more than a week in advance while the Russian satellite was inactive and could not possibly be actively controlled, it could easily be argued that the U.S. satellite and its operators were ultimately more at fault than the Russians.




By Lerianis on 3/13/2009 6:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly right. They should have seen this collision coming and the United States satellite should have moved out of the way of the other satellite.


RE: Inaccurate slant in first paragraph
By userbyname on 3/14/2009 1:41:26 AM , Rating: 3
The Russian satellite had an erratic orbit. This is known. You assume the people that track these objects never make mistakes, and are so perfect they can predict erratic flight paths with 100% accuracy. You also assume that corporations have the capability to monitor the rest of the debris in orbit, and then dodge it. You'd be wrong...at least twice.

You should be asking:

Who monitors all this space debris...and with all the pieces up there, how hard is it to monitor and predict with what accuracy?


By SlyNine on 3/14/2009 11:46:23 AM , Rating: 2
Explain to me how a satellite can have a erratic orbit please. Unless one of the boosters were on I just don't see how that's possible.

Didn't you know the government can monitor 6 billion people on earth.Got your tin foil hat on? Sarcasm.


By Shadowself on 3/13/2009 5:51:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 1996 Project Orion is being revived as a possibility. This projected planned for ground-based lasers to zap tech trash like a broom.

quote:
He now says that for the price of a Shuttle launch -- $500M USD -- he believes such a laser can be built, nudging thousands of bits of garbage out of orbit in only a few years. The key to his plan would be to use low power quick-pulse lasers, which, similar to the John Hopkins plan, would create small burns on space trash to lower its orbit.


I don't care how low power or how many small "burns" you do, if you "zap" it from the ground with a laser you just raise its orbit. Period. The reaction is two fold. The first is the photon pressure raising it (very minor on most items). The second is ablating part of the object and causing a jet that thrust the object UP. For things in low Earth orbit (LEO) you want to LOWER the orbit enough for atmospheric drag to bring it down so it burns up!

Most of the ideas proposed are just plain stupid. Anyone with more than 1/4 of a brain should realize this.




By s12033722 on 3/13/2009 6:41:17 PM , Rating: 3
You are assuming that the lasers would be firing up at the target. It is possible that they would fire from an angle and strike the target on the leading edge. In that case, both ablation and extremely low photonic pressure would act to slow the object, thus lowering the orbit, and eventually causing re-entry. The bad thing about this scheme is that it forces the laser to fire through significantly more atmosphere than a shot normal to the earth's surface would.


By menace on 3/13/2009 6:46:05 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it should be possible to gradually slow the orbital velocity and push the objects onto elliptical orbits. You just have to hit it at the right times, while the object velocity is heading toward the ground laser station. While the Newtonian reaction would tend to push the upward somewhat, the important thing is it will also slow the overall velocity. Both of these effects will push the object into an elliptical orbital path. When the orbit becomes elliptical enough it will start to drag in the thin upper atmosphere at perigee. This will then slow it down further and eventually burn up when it hits the dense stuff. Depending on size and altitude, small objects like bolt fragments might be brought down after a few orbits, larger objects may take months or years to bring down.


A robotic craft
By AntiM on 3/13/2009 3:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
I say use a robotic craft with a large Kevlar net or a gaping jaw like apparatus. Either way, once it's full of debris it can rocket itself out of orbit, or jetison it's captured cargo into the earth's atmosphere so it will be incinerated, and it can continue collecting debris.




RE: A robotic craft
By RoadWarrior068 on 3/13/2009 7:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
Quark...


RE: A robotic craft
By JediJeb on 3/16/2009 2:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
Finally someone else who remembers that show :)

One problem I see with the scoups and nets idea is that to orbit at the same altitude you really need to travel as the same speed as the debris. If you are going much faster or slower you will have a different altitude to your orbit and will not be able to collect the stuff. Unless you utilize an orbit counter to the orbiting debris, then you will be trying to capture debris that is essentially traveling at twice the orbital speed since the capture device and the debris is heading towards each other at 17k mph X 2.


RE: A robotic craft
By RagingDragon on 3/13/2009 10:25:30 PM , Rating: 2
If you're going to the trouble of collecting the stuff, may as well keep it and use it to build and/or repair satellites and spacecraft in orbit.


Need to launch an "Astra poope -scooper"
By tygrus on 3/13/2009 6:23:20 PM , Rating: 3
How about a large satellite with Aerogel to absorb small debris like a fishing net. Stay up for several years to pass through a large number of orbits to clear passageways. Probably return to lower orbits as it ages to maitain speed for large sweeps then closer to earth for re-entry and a big garbage bonfire.




By tygrus on 3/13/2009 6:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
Missing character in comment title.


By ThePooBurner on 3/14/2009 3:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
You stole my idea. But you and I are correct. An Areogel sweeper satalite is the only thing that would work feasably.


Mini Tactical Nukes.
By Spectator on 3/14/2009 3:09:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why not nuke small chunks of space?

Its not like your going to get sued if you blow up others stuff :)

Sht dude i told you is over US soil for next few hours. Move it or loose it. lol (Nuke..Nuke :P)




RE: Mini Tactical Nukes.
By Spectator on 3/14/2009 3:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
You could modify High altitude plains to deliver a payload vertically?

That cant be so expensive?.


RE: Mini Tactical Nukes.
By nixoofta on 3/14/2009 5:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
It wasn't too expensive. The money was taken from the education budget and the "High altitude plains" are now know as the "Great Plains".

Uhm,..good idea though.


rocket scientists just don't think.
By Randomblame on 3/14/2009 3:45:26 PM , Rating: 1
A ground based laser aimed at orbiting space junk would only be able to push the junk higher. It might burn it, melt it, whatever it will still be up there and it will be moved into a higher orbit. It's the same principle as a solar sail, the photons transfer their momentum to the object they hit, the direction of that energy does not change.




By swampy999 on 3/15/2009 5:52:58 AM , Rating: 2
Wont pulling and then vapourising the metals in the atmosphere be showering the planet in quantities of toxic material.


By Veerappan on 3/17/2009 3:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
It was mentioned in another part of this discussion, but it might be possible to target the leading edge of the debris while it is still approaching the laser, in which case the orbit of the object could possibly be slowed down enough to cause it to eventually enter an elliptical orbit and start skimming the atmosphere, eventually burning up on re-entry.


This is a bigger issue than global warming
By mattclary on 3/13/2009 3:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
Lose a few communication satellites or a shuttle... Bigger than the (theoretical) 1cm sea rise over the next 100 years.




By msomeoneelsez on 3/16/2009 2:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
speaking of global warming, wasnt a bunch of stuff in space a "solution" to global warming... blocking the sun's rays?


Birds
By Spookster on 3/13/2009 5:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have birds with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?




RE: Birds
By DigitalFreak on 3/14/2009 8:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
weak...


I saw the solution on Spaceballs...
By bkslopper on 3/13/2009 11:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
MEGA-MAID!!!!!




By Mitch101 on 3/14/2009 10:34:10 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds good at first but what if she goes from Suck to Blow?


Where has this guy been?
By Shadowself on 3/13/2009 5:58:46 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Ultimately, the best solution may be to simply decrease space littering in the future, to avoid more headaches. Heiner Klinkrad, who runs the European Space Agency's Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, and is chairman of the global Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee has been driving home this point for years, and has only recently started to convince people.

Spacecrafts should be designed to not scatter bolts or straps in space as they release probes, and satellites should have means to exit orbit at their end of life, he says. He states, "We need to treat space like a national park -- carry out what you carry in."


Where has this guy been?
In order to get launch authority since the early 90s release mechanisms and similar systems on launch vehicles and satellites have had to have them "captured" or tethered with cables so they don't go flying away or floating away after use. For ALL the systems with which I am aware (U.S., French, Russian, Chinese, Indian and Israeli for launch systems and U.S., European, Russian, Indian and Israeli for satellites) this is true.

There have been offenders in the past that have presented designs to get launch authority then modify it for some reason and pieces get away, but they are by far not the rule.

Except for the intentional shoot downs and this recent collision, the increase in small pieces of debris has been rather small in the past 10 years or more.

But the bottom line is any increase is too much of an increase.




IOF
By Cullinaire on 3/14/2009 2:07:47 AM , Rating: 3
All spacefaring nations of the world must contribute to the International Orbital Flypaper. The sticky part will be made with...

I leave that to the rest of you clever Dailytechnicians.




Vacuum cleaner
By AnnihilatorX on 3/14/2009 5:07:59 PM , Rating: 3
Vacuum cleaner is what we need, wait the space is a vacuum. That brings a whole new meaning to vacuum cleaners.




Rosie full moon crap dude
By irishbaldeagle on 3/16/2009 1:10:14 PM , Rating: 1
Rosie would create a new meaning to the full moon. We do not need her ass up there ha ha ha. I just find it amazing that with all our knowledge we have not considered that each peice should have a self destuction vaporizing on them then just desenagrates them on the spot. I also find it amazing than man through out all of the years we are the biggest contrubuting factor of trach every where. Water (sea river creek pounds lake) (I was a Coast Gaurd)land air now freakin space. We just can not keep our shit togther. It reminds me of a comercial of an Indian with a tear in his eye looking at al the trash ......what a waiste we all are.




RE: Rosie full moon crap dude
By Veerappan on 3/17/2009 3:45:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Texteach peice should have a self destuction vaporizing on them then just desenagrates them on the spot.


Not going to work. By blowing up the stuff we don't want anymore, we'd just be creating a larger number of smaller items we'd have to dodge in space. If you've got a hundred items the size of a baseball, or a single item the size of 100 baseballs, and they're all going 20,000mph, it doesn't matter which hits you. Any impact will leave a large amount of damage, but by creating a larger number of objects in orbit, you'd be increasing the odds of a collision significantly.


By pequin06 on 3/13/2009 5:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
What we need is "The Earth Protocol" which will be a protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Space Junk Change (UNFCSJC).
This treaty will be intended to achieve "stabilization of space junk".
Since the space junk is primarly the cause of us industrialized countries we will agree to reduce our collective SJ by x.x% (use your own number). Of course we will have "flexible mechanisms", such as Space Junk Trading which will have a zero effect on the actual SJ, but it will make certain people feel like they are "doing something" and ease their conscious so they can feel good about themselves.




block it with the moon
By taber on 3/13/2009 9:28:29 PM , Rating: 2
Let's just tug the moon over close to the earth and let all the debris slam into it. After we're done we can just tug it back into the original orbit and call it good.

Sure, it might play with the tides a little, will take a pretty big engine and carry some other risks, but I'm game.




Rubbish ideas
By Kyanzes on 3/14/2009 12:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
These ideas (laser, spraying water etc.) are all rubbish. Here's the real thing: move matter from one side of the planet to the opposite side, hence altering the center of gravity. All the stuff on the "lighter side" should brake orbit due to decreased gravity while all the trash on the "heavier side" should fall down due to increased gravity.

Piece of cake :)

Yeah, it's plain stupid and absolutely impossible, but heck, it has a certain style to it :D

(No trees had to die during the conception of this idea.)




Wall-E
By Trikat on 3/14/2009 1:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wall-E, but capable of cleaning up in space.
I guess it will build a moon made of space debris.




OH NOES!!
By AnimeRomeo on 3/15/2009 12:06:24 AM , Rating: 2
The dead corpses of all those monkeys that we blasted into space are piling up!




It's all in the gravety
By Hammer1024 on 3/15/2009 1:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
What all the "glue", "net", and "magnet" ideas miss is that changing orbit to go and get the stuff is not trivial in the long run let alone generating more debris than what was started with.

I therefore propose a more unique solution.

Earth needs another, real, satellite. We build a robotic space craft to go and place a solar mirror (Controlled using a solar sail, reaction wheels and replenishable thrusters.) in orbit around say Vesta, bring it in to low orbit around the earth, say in a 400 mile orbit (Not to close, but close enough to pick up debris from 500-600 miles out or de-orbit stuff its orbit down to LEO)and use its gravity to collect the junk.

Use the control system to maintain its orbit and maneuver it around. It doesn't have to maneuver quickly as long as it collects or de-orbits junk.




By Hokum on 3/16/2009 7:28:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why keep sending shuttles back and forth, just send one up and use it as a rubbish truck, collect all the large junk, take it to the IIS, smelt it and build new ships with it! Alot of this just is going to be high grade materials so why waste it?




Detect intellegent life?
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/16/2009 9:59:36 AM , Rating: 2
This has got me thinking, could rings around planets be a potential sign of intelligent life?

How far off could these rings be detected? How long/short of a time in the development of an advanced civilization are these visible? In other words, at what point in the advancement of our species would we attempt to clean this up?




Multitasking
By Brain onna Bun on 3/16/2009 12:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
Just creating a solution that will only be able to be used in this single instance is typical short term, wasteful human thinking.

What this species needs is an amalgam of a number of ideas, several that have been posted here.

A combination Solar Mirror, Refinery, and Trawl system (SoMRaTS)

Essentially create a large solar furnace in orbit, that uses the heat generated as a power source. This same generated energy can be transferred back to Sol-3 at a later stage either via microwave beaming or along a cable, once you acquire a skyhook lift.

in the mean time this concentrated solar light can be used as a heat powered acceleration device to either lower or raise debris velocity. This will allow larger more valuable pieces to be raised in orbit, allowing easier recapturing to be smelted back into component materials for re use, while lesser pieces can be lowered and allowed to burn up in re-entry.

This same solar heat gun could then be used to decimate any large, threateningly close celestial objects that seem as if they will impact Sol-3 in a cataclysmic strike event.




By Aerosmithe on 3/16/2009 1:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The impact destroyed both satellites, scattering thousands of cubic miles of deadly debris in orbit.


Unless these satelites were the largest pieces of manmade orbital crap ever created, there is no way they scattered thousands of cubic miles of debris. Maybe they scattered debris over thousands of cubic miles, but there is a massive difference between the two.

And while I realize this ignores the issue at hand (that there's a bunch of crap floating around in orbit) but when the two satellites collided, and scattered pieces of themselves all over the place, wouldn't those pieces have different speeds than the orbiting satellites had? I ask because an orbit is a function of mass, distance, and velocity. Ignoring mass, it works out to the lower an orbit, the faster it must travel to remain at the same height, while the higher the orbit, the slower it must travel to maintain height. So these pieces were in a certain orbit, height-wise, and then experienced a change in speed. This means that the pieces should either have slowed down enough to drop into the atmosphere and burn up, or fly off into space and not bother us...




Come on now...
By acase on 3/13/09, Rating: 0
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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