Cleaning Up Space Trash

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Ben Cohen
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Earth Space Junk by Fred Seghetti.

by Ben Cohen

According to the Scientific American, there are roughly 15,000 pieces of space junk (mostly leftover rocket boosters) flying around the earth's orbit that military monitors are tracking. It now looks like the problem is so bad, we're looking for a way to clean it up:

With thousands of pieces of tracked debris and countless smaller chunks
posing a hazard that operational satellites and even manned missions
sometimes have to dodge, it is only a matter of time before somebody—be
it a lone government agency or a consortium of the concerned—takes
charge of the cleanup.

Such a space-based "Superfund" effort may now be in the works: The U.S. military's Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) posted a notice last week
soliciting ideas on how to shrink the growing debris cloud in Earth
orbit
. The solicitation is merely a first step that promises no
funding or commitment from the government, but several contractors have
shown interest in contributing to a solution.

(photo by Fred Seghetti)