Feeds

Space junk at 'tipping point', now getting worse on its own

More collisions generate more debris, so more collisions

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Satellites and spacecraft face the growing risk of damage and failure thanks to the expanding volume of small pieces of junk hurtling around the Earth's orbit.

Scientists have warned the amount of orbital junk has reached a tipping point in volume and size.

The National Research Council has said in a report (here) that existing debris from other satellites and space craft will only multiply as it continue to collide with itself, getting ever smaller into the bargain.

"This increase will lead to corresponding increases in spacecraft failures, which will only create more feedback into the system, increasing the debris population growth rate," the report says.

So far the problem has been largely restricted to low Earth orbit (LEO), but geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) could suffer the same fate over a longer period of time. GEO is the band of space 23,500 miles above the equator where an orbiting satellite remains constantly above the same point on the surface, and is home to many communications satellites.

The Council has recommended NASA develop a strategic plan for its current programmes – grouped under the banner meteoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) – to monitor and tack space debris. It urged for a prioritisation of resources and research projects to record, monitor and report on the shrinking pieces of junk.

The scientists warned NASA's current vogue for budget cuts could threaten MMOD efforts, as many of the programmes are run by a single person.

They pointed out how, in the past, MMOD work has helped redesign satellites' critical components to be more resistant to MMOD damage, and develop MMOD shielding on the International Space Station.

The crew of the ISS in June were forced to man their escape capsules and prepare for an evacuation when debris came dangerously close to the station. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.