30 November 2012
Posted in Space Junk 3D
Orbital debris, better known as space junk, is the collection of human-made objects in orbit around Earth that no longer serve a purpose. These objects consist of everything from spent rocket stages and defunct satellites to erosion, explosion and collision fragments.
With tons of space debris orbiting low Earth, it is becoming an expensive task for the military to track and eliminate the debris.
Recently, a new study revealed increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the upper atmosphere is allowing satellites and other debris to stay in orbit longer, making it even more difficult to clean up space.With 29 space-monitoring sensors at their command, the Space Surveillance Network can only track about 30,000 of the more than 500,000 pieces of debris. That’s only 6 percent!
In order to combat these problems of tracking and eliminating space clutter, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -funded SpaceView project is asking for help from amateur astronomers worldwide.
DARPA hopes to organize the astronomy community into an extension of the U.S. Air Force’s own sky-watchers and track more pieces.
Astronomers interested in getting involved and have telescopes used for astrophotography, asteroid hunting or high-quality astronomy are able to help. Further, SpaceView will offer state-of-the-art hardware and, in some cases, financial compensation, for the shared telescope time, site security and routine maintenance.
By crowdsourcing, SpaceView can reduce deployment and operational costs.
Interested in getting involved and saving Earth’s orbit? Click here to sign up. SpaceView intends to select the first dozen of the program in late 2013.
For more information on the increasing problem of orbital debris, venture to the Dr. Phillips CineDome at the Orlando Science Center to watch the educational film Space Junk. Don Kessler, the “father of space junk,” guides you on an adventure to explain the challenges we face in protecting the environment in space.