Feeds

Aussie boffins can detect orbiting SPACE JUNK using rock gods' radiation

'It's only rock and roll ... but I sight it'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Scientists in Western Australia think they've cracked a way to use FM radio emissions from a youth station to track man-made garbage in low-Earth orbit. The boffins have demonstrated the technique using the International Space Station as a target.

The newly built Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in remote Boolardy sheep station in Australia's western outback region uses radio transmissions from nearby youth-orientated station Triple J to detect objects in space. It has picked up the station's signals reflected off the ISS, but the team says the same reflections could be refined down to serve a more useful purpose.

"We have shown that we are able to detect approximately 10 pieces of space junk simultaneously. Over time this means we are in a position to monitor a significant fraction of the space junk that is in Earth orbits," said Professor Steven Tingay, chief investigator in the Australian Research Council Center for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).

"An early warning system has the potential to protect the billions of dollars' worth of vital infrastructure orbiting the Earth but also prevent collisions that will result in even more space debris being generated, such as what happened in the case of the Iridium 33 satellite in 2009."

Space debris is certainly a problem. Mankind has been littering Earth's orbit for more than 50 years and the situation is getting worse. NASA has had to upgrade rocketry control systems on the ISS so that it can dodge debris in six hours, instead of over a day in the original designs, due to the number of close shaves.

That said, the MWA isn’t designed for this kind of work. The telescope is one of the first operation stages of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, a $2bn radio telescope that will be the largest array in the Southern Hemisphere when it comes online in 2024, if current building schedules permit.

The SKA consists of a concentrated one square-kilometer heart of dishes and dipole radio receptors, with refining receivers spread up to 3,000 kilometers further out. It will work faster and image galaxies farther out than any other Earth-bound radio telescope.

One of its key tasks is to look back into the very early stages of the universe's development, about 350 to 800 million years aft the Big Bang. This period, known as the Epoch of Reionization, saw the very first stars and galaxies form, and the Aussie telescope may be able to provide vital clues about what fired up the universe as we know it. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.