Feb 19, 2009 | 1
Think garbage is a problem on the ground? Out-of-this-world solutions may be needed to get rid of the growing swarm of space trash, including debris from last week's smashup between a Russian and a U.S. satellite.
That's the word from this week's meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Associated Press reports. Among the possible remedies floating around the Vienna confab: giving orbital debris parachute-like balloons that would increase their atmospheric drag and pull them back to Earth faster or attaching a 10-mile (16-kilometer) electrodynamic tether to a piece of circling junk that would allow technicians to control its descent.
Feb 11, 2009 | 19
A commercial satellite collided with a Russian satellite over Siberia yesterday, yielding a cloud of fragments, according to a NASA scientist tracking space debris. The collision between the commercial satellite, belonging to the American communications firm Iridium, and the Russian satellite, believed to be defunct based on its advanced age, was the first of its kind, says Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist at the NASA Orbital Debris Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston. (A spokesperson for Iridium said a statement on the incident would be released shortly.)*
"In the past almost 20 years, there have been three other accidental collisions between objects in orbit, but they've all been very minor," Johnson says. "The most debris ever produced in an event was like four debris, and this is two intact spacecraft colliding, and we have hundreds of debris out there. We don't know exactly how many yet."
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