In June the International Space Station almost suffered major damage from space junk and now the National Research Council has released a stern warning in which they say the amount of space junk orbiting around earth has reached a dangerous “tipping point.”
The council has advised NASA that they need to get a better handle on the situation and for the US to enlist the help of other nations so they can figure out how to clear the space around Earth of debris.
One former NASA scientist told the Washington Post:
“We’re going to have a lot more [debris] collisions, and at an increasingly frequent rate.”
The agency warns that not only are Astronauts having to deal with threats from space junk, it has begun putting multimillion-dollar satellites at risk as small pieces of debris continue to grow in numbers.
The agency points out that as more collisions occur the amount of space junk that exists is multiplied, leading to even more dangerous space junk.
Scientists have attempted to find ways in which they can destroy space junk including using high powered lasers to knock the debris out of orbit, forcing debris to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry.
At this time space debris is affecting all aspects of space exploration and satellite use.
Unfortunately we could be years away from a suitable answer that will actually solve the problem or at least clear out some space. How would you get rid of space junk if you were put in control of NASA’s space debris removal operations?