Print 38 comment(s) - last by JediJeb.. on Nov 11 at 5:04 PM

The International Space Station   (Source: NASA)
Astronauts aboard the ISS were forced to sleep in Russian Soyuz escape pods due to a piece of flying debris

A small piece of space debris flew near the International Space Station (ISS) late last week, with ground control flight operators instructing ISS astronauts to hide in escape crafts.

The six-person crew aboard the ISS first learned of the debris early on Friday morning.  Since it proved so difficult to monitor it using satellite and ground-based technology, NASA said the piece of debris likely was extremely small.

Due to the space debris, the crew had to sleep in two Russian Soyuz craft designed to be escape pods -- the actual trajectory of the debris was unknown, causing even more alarm from mission operators.

It turned out, according to space officials, that the debris didn't come close to the ISS after all, but the decision to order the crew into the Soyuz escape craft was still a good idea.  

As the number of floating space junk increases, the possibility of impact with the ISS, satellites or manned missions has increased.  The ISS has been forced to undergo avoidance maneuvers in the past, but this may become an issue that is even more serious in the future.

The United States Air Force announced early last spring it would set aside $500 million in 2010 to help track space junk floating around Earth.  NASA officials also again said the threat of space junk would continue to increase unless space experts came up with methods to stop it.

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RE: THey need..
By marvdmartian on 11/10/2009 2:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
That's only going to work on ferrous materials. Since space craft are usually made of lighter materials (think aluminum and titanium), a magnet would do nothing to attract those pieces.

A large fine net dragging along would probably be the only way you're going to pick up anything, and then you run into the problem that bigger pieces would tend to tear the net, but smaller pieces would simply slip through any net substantial enough to catch the larger pieces.

Honestly, the best way would have been to simply prevent all this junk in the first place....but then, hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

RE: THey need..
By heulenwolf on 11/10/2009 4:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
Then what we really need is an incredibly large mass to attract all the debris with a high-friction layer of gas around it so that the debris will burn up as it approaches the mass. do we get that?

RE: THey need..
By lagitup on 11/10/2009 4:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I had one of those! I left it in the hotel room last time I was visiting Venus...

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