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RE: Space Junk
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There are an estimated 13,000 to 20,000 pieces of smashed-up satellites and rocket bits floating above our heads, and a conference in Montreal hopes its attendees will know what to do to tackle the problem.
The growing awareness of the impact of space debris upon the safety of space operations and space-based assets has encouraged some space actors to take steps to mitigate the production of new debris through the development and implementation of national and international debris mitigation measures.
They are gathering for the International Interdisciplinary Congress on Space Debris, now on in Montreal.

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American spacecraft had to dodge space debris four times in 2008, NASA revealed Tuesday, a fact that highlights both the extent of the space junk problem and the primary mitigation option open to NASA.
By tracking pieces of debris larger than around four inches, space engineers can identify some dangerous space junk and meteoroids. If a satellite or spacecraft is in danger of getting hit, they simply move it out of harms way. The International Space Station, for example, had to make an evasive manoeuvre back in August 2008, to avoid a piece of an old Russian craft.

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Tons of space garbage is orbiting the Earth and posing serious threats to active satellites and manned space missions, and to astronauts when they conduct space walks outside of their ships.
Humans have generated an estimated 6,000 tons of space garbage, including the proven existence of 13,000 objects larger than 10 centimetres, nearly all left to the universe by the former Soviet Union, the United States, China, France, Japan and India.

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Space sail could bring used rockets back to Earth
The risk to spacecraft from a collision with space debris could be reduced by equipping launchers with a gossamer-thin "sail". The idea is to deploy the sail after the rocket has released its payload to amplify the drag of the last vestiges of the atmosphere, and so force the rocket out of orbit.

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The collision of two communications satellites on 10 February has significantly increased the risk to Europe's Earth-observing programme.
The European Space Agency's ERS-2 and Envisat missions are 30% more likely to face a catastrophic impact from space debris in the wake of the collision, according to Heiner Klinkrad, head of ESA's Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany.

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Wary of the multitude of satellites in earth's orbit, the European Space Agency has begun a program to monitor space debris and set up uniform standards to prevent future collisions far above the planet, an official said Monday.
The euro50 million program - dubbed Space Situational Awareness - aims to increase information for scientists on the ground about the estimated 13,000 satellites and other man-made bodies orbiting the planet, ESA space debris expert Jean-Francois Kaufeler told reporters.
The program was launched in January. On Feb. 10, the collision of two satellites generated space junk that could circle Earth and threaten other satellites for the next 10,000 years.

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For decades, space experts have warned of orbits around the planet growing so crowded that two satellites might one day slam into one another, producing swarms of treacherous debris.
It happened Tuesday. And the whirling fragments could pose a threat to the International Space Station, orbiting 215 miles up with three astronauts on board, though officials said the risk was now small.

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Since the Space Age began, many thousands of pieces of debris -- fragments of spacecraft, components of rockets, and so forth -- have accumulated in orbit around Earth. Usually, this junk falls and burns up in the planet's atmosphere. Sometimes, however, large pieces crash to the ground, battered but intact. There is only one known instance of a person being hit by falling space junk, exactly five years ago.
Very early on the morning of January 22, 1997, Lottie Williams, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was walking for exercise in a park near her home. She saw a "big bright light, like a fire" in the sky.

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Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma reported that she was struck on the shoulder while walking. The timing and location were consistent with debris from the Delta second stage reentry from which debris was recovered several hundred miles away in Texas.

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There are well over 100,000 objects in Earth orbit, the vast majority being non-functioning junk in the form of satellites and debris from rocket launches.
Nuts, bolts, chips of paint and other garbage all pose a threat to satellite operations.
With no atmospheric barrier to shield the moon's surface, NASA is now taking steps to prevent a similar accumulation of debris in lunar orbit.

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Space debris
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Targeting space debris using networks
How to deal with the ever-increasing problem of space debris, poses a major challenge for space agencies, industry and academia around the globe.
Now, research by a team from the University of Southampton's School of Engineering Sciences, suggests a new technique for identifying key pieces of debris that should be targeted for removal from orbit.

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