Moon is seen in the sky during the closest visible conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 400 years, in Tejeda, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain December 21, 2020. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Space debris left behind by humans caught in low-orbit is forming a “drifting island of plastic” that could damage satellites critical for communications and defense.

Scientists believe the so-called “space junk” contains around 128 million pieces  larger than 1mm and an estimated 34,000 pieces larger than 10 cm. A baseball is 8 cm for comparison. According to NASA, space junk can reach speeds of up to 18,000 miles per hour, or around seven times the speed of a bullet. 

Many companies are rushing to find a solution to this problem, including U.K. startup Skyora, which seeks to create a “space tug” capable of removing space junk from the path of satellites. Skyora is the only private company based in the U.K. that is capable of launching rockets from domestic soil and will be capable of the complex maneuvers needed to refuel in space as well as remove satellites and space debris.

Japan’s Sumitomo Forestry teamed up with Kyoto University to build wooden satellites in an effort to reduce space junk, as most of it comes from satellites. The logic behind experimenting with wooden satellites is that the wood would burn and disintegrate before it entered the atmosphere or ended up adding to the floating plastic currently in orbit. 

The prevalence of space junk has also reached popular culture, as Netflix prepares to release a near-future sci-fi film called “Space Sweepers” centered on a crew who makes its living by retrieving and selling parts of old rockets and satellites they find in space.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Space junk has become equivalent of a ‘drifting island of plastic’ – Daily Mail Online – 1/12/2021
Now, Ekaterini Kavvada, the directorate general of Defence Industry and Space at the European Commission, has warned that this space junk is ‘not a theoretical threat but a reality’ – similar to the threat posed by floating islands of plastic in the Earth’s oceans. She added that the debris could cause damage to active European and other satellites, adding that if we do not react in a safe and timely way, the consequences will be ‘detrimental.’

Dealing with celestial scrap – Removing space junk – The Economist – 1/12/2021
Human beings are messy. They tend to leave rubbish behind them wherever they go—and to expect someone else to clear that rubbish up. This is true even in outer space. The problem of orbiting debris, and the concomitant risk of it colliding with and damaging an active and probably expensive satellite, has been around for a while. But it is rapidly getting worse. In the past three years, the number of times such bits of junk have almost hit operating satellites has roughly doubled.

Song Joon Ki’s New Movie “Space Sweepers” To Release On Netflix In February 2021 – OtakuKart – 1/13/2021
Space Sweepers is finally premiering. And we can assure you that the fans are still doubting the news. But, we hope this time the release date does not change its schedule. Earlier, Space Sweepers was making its debut in the Summer of 2020. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe, it was moved to October 1, 2020 (Korean Thanksgiving Day). As we all know, it did not happen, and now we have a new release date.

Drifting Island-Like Space Trash in Low-Earth Orbit Pose Threat to Satellites – The Science Times – 1/12/2021
There has been a recorded 50% increase in debris levels in Earth’s low orbit in the last five years. ESA has launched a Clean Space initiative where they seek to cur debris from the production of future ESA missions. However, salvaging current debris is still in the works.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

There's depth. And then there's in-depth.

To get beyond the news and receive actionable intelligence about this topic or thousands more, simply enter your email address below.

You May Also Like

Coronavirus linked to a 178% increase in software attacks demanding ransom since last year

Russian and Iranian hackers are also taking advantage of millions working from home