International chatter has increased on the topic of space debris or junk. Suddenly it seems on top of endless military spending citizens didn’t ask for Governments and their bureaucracies say floating junk that countries leave in Earth’s orbit while on ISS missions are now another thing man has to fear!
A simple question is how would you know what’s in low earth orbit? Whatever corrupt Governments tell you eh?!
You may have heard the famous qoute by George Orwell: ‘All Art is Propaganda’ so I thought it fitting I displayed the ‘Space Debris Into Sound Art‘ Image By Cait Munro which dovetails this story nicely.
South Korean Satellite Faces Collision With Space Junk
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Jan 04, 2015
A South Korean geological monitoring satellite is on course to come within close hazardous proximity with space debris, Yonhap reports.
The South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning specialists are preparing measures to avert a highly probable collision that could be fatal for the Science and Technology Satellite 3. They will try to change the spacecraft’s altitude so that it will dodge the space junk.
US scientists were first to figure out the satellite’s upcoming collision and raised the alarm, warning their South Korean colleagues on Friday, Arirang conveys.
On Sunday, the Science and Technology Satellite 3 will be just some 23 meters away from the dangerous debris above the Greenland Sea, Yonhap says citing space officials.
That orbiting garbage was left after a deactivated Russian communications satellite and an operating American commercial satellite bumped into each other in 2009.
The South Korean Science and Technology Satellite 3 was put into orbit in November 2013 and is programmed to revolve around the globe every 97 minutes and predict earthquakes and other geological activity from the height of 600 kilometers, Yonhap reminds.
Could Lizard Hands Help Us Clean Up Space Junk?
We’ve written extensively about the orbital debris problem here on Universe Today. In a nutshell, just about every time we launch something from Earth there are bits and pieces that are left behind. Screws. Paint flecks. Sometimes bigger pieces from rocket stages, or at worst, dysfunctional satellites.
Added to the list of lasers, magnets, robot hands and other ideas to get space junk out of orbit is a new one from NASA — gecko grippers. Yes, lizard hands. The idea is by using techniques from these animal appendages, we might be able to efficiently snag dead satellites or other debris at low cost.
Space debris is all whizzing above us and puts us at risk for devastating crashes that can create a sort of prison of debris for any spacecraft hoping to fly above the atmosphere. We’ve already had to move the shuttle and International Space Station due to threats, and the fear is as more satellites reach space, the problem will get worse.
Here’s what NASA has to say about the idea, which is led by Aaron Parness, a robotics researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
The gripping system … was inspired by geckos, lizards that cling to walls with ease. Geckos’ feet have branching arrays of tiny hairs, the smallest of which are hundreds of times thinner than a human hair. This system of hairs can conform to a rough surface without a lot of force. Although researchers cannot make a perfect replica of the gecko foot, they have put “hair” structures on the adhesive pads of the grippers.
The grippers were put through their paces in a simulated microgravity test in August (recently highlighted on NASA’s website). On a plane that flew parabolas with brief “weightless” periods, the grippers managed to grab on to a 20-pound cube and a 250-pound researcher-plus-spacecraft-material-panels combination.
The key limitation was researchers actually held on to their invention themselves, but eventually they hope to use a robotic leg or arm to achieve the same purpose. Meanwhile, on the ground, the grippers have been used on dozens of spacecraft surfaces in a vacuum and in temperatures simulating what you’d find in orbit.
There’s no guarantee that the system itself will make it to space, as it’s still in the early stages of testing. But in a statement, Parness said he thinks it’s possible that “our system might one day contribute to a solution.” NASA also said these could be used for small satellites to attach to the space station, but development would need to move quickly in that case. The station is only guaranteed to be in use until 2020, with possible extension to 2024.
NASA Team Proposes to Use Laser to Track Orbital Debris
As participation in space exploration grows worldwide, so does the impact of orbital debris — man-made “space junk” that poses significant hazards to live spacecraft and astronauts should they cross paths and collide.
Barry Coyle and Paul Stysley, laser researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, want to develop a method to define and track orbital debris using laser ranging — a promising approach that could overcome shortfalls with passive optical and radar techniques, which debris trackers use today to locate and track dead satellites, spacecraft components, and other remnants orbiting in low-Earth or geosynchronous orbits where most space assets reside.
Inspired by an Australian study that found laser tracking increased the accuracy of debris ranging by a factor of 10 when compared with other methods, Coyle and Stysley now “want to reproduce the results from this paper on a larger scale,” using Goddard’s Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO). The GGAO satellite laser-ranging team, led by Goddard’s Jan McGarry, has advanced laser-ranging techniques using satellites equipped with retro-reflectors, becoming world leaders in the field.
GGAO’s 48-inch telescope, which transmits outgoing and receives incoming laser beams, was built in the early 1970s as a research and development and testing facility for laser ranging, lidar, and astronomical instruments. The facility has ranged to spacecraft at planetary distances and has been used to provide on-orbit calibration of some of Goddard’s altimetry spacecraft. NASA also used the facility in 2005 to determine the performance of the laser-altimeter instrument aboard its MESSENGER spacecraft as it flew past Earth during its sojourn to Mercury.
Once the team demonstrates ranging with a target not equipped with the retro-reflector, it would like to implement the technique in a global network of ground-based laser observatories to observe and more accurately track debris, thus aiding the world’s current debris-tracking efforts.
Time to Test Laser Ranging
“Orbital debris is an international problem, the responsibility of all who can launch satellites,” Coyle said.
Although it’s difficult removing the material itself, NASA mission operators can minimize its impact on operational space assets. They can move non-operational spacecraft to less populated orbits to remove the threat to new missions or allow dead craft to re-enter the atmosphere, where they burn up upon entry. What’s essential is that these assets are tracked and monitored to protect active and future missions from potentially harmful collisions, Coyle said.
In 2012, for example, the Fermi Space Telescope was on track to cross paths with Cosmos 1805, a defunct satellite. The Fermi team fired the spacecraft’s thrusters for one second to alter Fermi’s path. Each avoidance maneuver, however, takes time away from a satellite’s regular mission and can be costly due to the need to carry additional fuel just to carry out these maneuvers. In addition, the International Space Station has performed 15 collision-avoidance maneuvers over its mission life, and more are expected.
Given the need, Coyle and Stysley believe it’s time to evaluate new, potentially more effective tracking methods. Optical telescopes, for example, can track sunlit debris, but they provide little information about the altitude of the debris. Furthermore, optical-based calculations are limited to sunset and sunrise, when the sun illuminates the object against a dark sky.
Radar, meanwhile, provides a range, rather than the precise location of the orbital debris. Instantaneous positioning is typically accurate to hundreds of meters. Due to drag from solar winds and particles, the orbit changes, meaning that its predicted location will grow quickly by kilometers.
Laser Tracking Provides Details
With laser ranging, however, NASA could glean more data, including debris shape, size, orbital projection, and range. It also could track softball-size objects to an accuracy of a meter, depending on the object’s shape and size.
To show the effectiveness of laser tracking, the team plans to update the GGAO laser from its current 1.064 microns to 1.57-microns, making it safe to project large amounts of energy into the atmosphere without violating aircraft eye-safety standards. They would shine the laser light into the sky to find the debris and use the returned light to help estimate a trajectory and find a possible range for movement. With each pass, the added data would increase accuracy.
“Orbital debris affects everybody,” said Coyle. “Goddard was the birthplace of satellite laser ranging, and manages a world-wide network of ground stations for geophysical applications. We want new technology to flow through Goddard and a possible new network, as well.”
New deal will help protect Europe’s satellites from space debris
US warning centre. Image credit: US Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons
“As more countries, companies and organisations field space capabilities and benefit from the use of space systems, it is in our collective interest to act responsibly, to promote transparency and to enhance the long-term sustainability, stability, safety and security of the space joint operating area,” said Admiral Cecil D. Haney, head of US Strategic Command in a statement.
Dr Hugh Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton, told Sen: “As the space debris population continues to grow, ESA is receiving an increasing number of collision warnings. Some of these warnings result in collision avoidance manoeuvres, which require considerable effort to manage and are not without risk themselves.
“Having timely access to surveillance data will help to reduce the effort and the risk. The agreement will also allow ESA to improve their response to emergencies affecting their spacecraft, such as the loss of the Envisat spacecraft in April 2012.”
“The agreement improves ESA’s operations in low orbital altitudes, an environment that is contaminated with numerous pieces of debris from recent fragmentation, at a time when we are about to significantly increase the number of active missions in this orbit,” said ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.
“The more timely and customisable data exchange enabled by this agreement will improve collision avoidance as well as launch and early operations for our missions.”
“We will now get clearly defined data upon requests we submit to the US Joint Space Operations Centre at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. We also look forward to faster responses,” said Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office.
“In time-critical scenarios like a degraded orbit injection after launch or sudden loss of contact with one of our missions, there will be fewer formalities and shorter time until we get the data we’d like.”
ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. Image credit: ESA/J. Mai
ESA missions today perform four to six debris avoidance manoeuvres each year, and this number has been increasing.
The latest conducted by ESOC was performed by CryoSat-2 on 7 October, to avoid a fragment of Cosmos-2251, which collided with Iridium-33 in 2009. CryoSat provides data to determine the precise rate of change in the thickness of the polar ice sheets and floating sea ice, leading to a better understanding of how the volume of ice on Earth is changing and, in turn, a better appreciation of how ice and climate are linked.
“The predicted flyby distance was just 121 metres, which is within the uncertainties of our orbit knowledge—so we had to get further away,” said Krag.
In exchange for the improved service from the US side, ESA will provide information on planned orbit manoeuvres, which will allow fine-tuning of the US surveillance approach. This, in turn, will generate more accurate and updated information for ESA.
Need of a Recycle plant in Space!
Man has left mark of development on earth and has conquered unimaginable heights in tracking the Universe. We are prone to pollute the earth that we live on. We have managed to carry on the human legacy of polluting where ever we visit and we have managed to create junk in space equally extraordinary. As a result of fifty years of spaceflight, the useful orbits around the earth are littered with derelict satellites, burnt out rocket stages, discarded trash and other waste.
According to US Space Surveillance Network more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk,” are tracked as they orbit the Earth. By extrapolation it is estimated that there could be a total of 750,000 orbiting objects larger than 0.4 inch. There is now so much debris in orbit that the space environment is close to a cascade of collisions that would make space extremely hazardous. Experts believe that global positioning systems, international phone connections, television signals and weather forecasts could be affected by increasing levels of space junk.
Governments, and now cell phone, television and GPS receiver companies, have launched hundreds of satellites a year since the beginning of the space race. These satellites, along with rockets and other objects sent up into space, make up the majority of space junk.
First proposed by NASA scientist Donald Kessler in 1978, the Kessler Syndrome is a cascading chain of impacts that would render orbital space impassable. First, impact with debris disintegrates a spacecraft into a large number of fragments. Some of the new debris strikes other spacecraft, which disintegrate and cause still more impacts, until a runaway domino effect is created. Low-Earth orbit would become too hazardous for human or satellite travel.
The floating debris travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. A crash between a defunct Russian Cosmos satellite and an Iridium Communications Inc. satellite in February 2009 left around 1,500 pieces of junk whizzing around the earth at 4.8 miles a second. The rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station, space shuttles and other spacecraft with humans aboard.
Since there are so many objects flying around up there, there is a concern that collisions between debris will only produce more fragments. Even if we stopped launching spacecraft right now and didn’t send a single object into orbit, the amount of debris in space would remain constant until 2055. The most recent case of such a collision, for instance, happened on Jan. 17, 2005, when a piece of debris from an exploded Chinese rocket smashed into a 31-year-old American rocket that had been left alone. The collision only produced four pieces of debris, but observers fear it’s only a matter of time before such pieces create an unstoppable chain reaction. About 100 to 150 ton of space junk re-enters Earth’s atmosphere each year. The most recent significant occurrence was when a NASA satellite and a German satellite collided and landed in the Bay of Bengal in 2011. Last year, a piece of debris from a Chinese satellite hit an active Russian spacecraft. Astronauts can be affected too. In 2012, the International Space Station moved to a higher orbit to avoid colliding with debris from a Japanese satellite.
Apart from collision in space and probable damage that would be caused to the spacecrafts in future there is also a feeling of fear for those on earth. Everything in orbit will eventually be pulled back down by Earth’s gravity — when that happens depends on how high the object is and how fast it’s going. The higher the altitude, the longer the object will take to fall, and it’ll take even longer the faster it’s speeding around the Earth. These objects could stay in orbit for thousands of years but would eventually travel towards the earth marking a prospect for devastation.
Understanding the effect of chain reaction that might come along due to the floating debris in space, Space agencies are looking to develop better tracking and clearance infrastructure after being complacent for many years. There are many theories that are being planned to implement to find solution to the debris problem.
Here are some recent proposals:
DARPA’s Phoenix: A robotic servicer spacecraft would chase down derelict satellites and harvest still-usable hardware, such as a dish antenna. The servicer attaches a module that allows the salvaged part to be used for a new mission. Phoenix is a project of the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
CleanSpace One: A robotic janitor spacecraft is launched into orbit from an airplane. The janitor chases down a target satellite, grapples it, and then plunges back into the Earth’s atmosphere, destroying itself along with the derelict satellite. CleanSpace One is a project of the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Earth-based Lasers: A ground-based laser could de-orbit space debris by robbing it of a bit of the momentum it needs to continue orbiting the Earth. Light exerts pressure, so to de-orbit an object such as the discarded ASTRO-F satellite lens cap 31 inches (80 centimeters) wide and 11 pounds (5 kilograms) in mass a laser beam of about 5-to-10 kilowatts would be shined upon it for about two hours.
If the problem of floating debris in useful orbits for earth’s communication proposes is not cleaned there is a probability that the reaction of debris might result into lost of our access to space. There is a need for all countries to take up program of ‘Space garbage collection service’ where every satellite that is launched deals with a part of contribution in cleaning some amount of space with responsibility.
NASA takes the threat of collisions with space debris seriously and has a long-standing set of guidelines on how to deal with each potential collision threat. These guidelines, part of a larger body of decision-making aids known as flight rules, specify when the expected proximity of a piece of debris increases the probability of a collision enough that evasive action or other precautions to ensure the safety of the crew are needed. Changes need to be kept in mind before taking steps for advancing the launch of satellites in future.
Australian firm will blast space junk out of the sky with lasers
By Ryan Whitwam Nov. 5, 2014
The International Space Station has taken evasive action to avoid debris from an old Russian satellite.
NASA said the space junk came within a fifth of a mile (320 metres) of the orbital laboratory and its six inhabitants.
It was wreckage from a Kosmos satellite that launched in 1993 and collided with another satellite five years ago.
Mission Control said Monday afternoon’s sidestep would not affect the planned launch of supplies by a commercial company.
But Orbital Sciences Corp’s rocket launch from Wallops Island, Virginia, had to be abandoned for another reason – a boat ventured into a restricted zone within 10 minutes of take off.
The unmanned Cygnus capsule – carrying nearly 5,000lb (2,200kg) of supplies and materials for space experiments – will now be launched on Tuesday.
Attempts to contact the boat were unsuccessful, NASA said.
“Tonight’s Antares launch has been postponed because of a ship in the mariner avoidance area,” Orbital wrote on its blog.
The research cargo bound for the ISS includes materials to investigate how to stop headaches in space, measure the rate of pea-shoot growth, and how milk spoils in micro-gravity.