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Science News: New effort to clean up space debris

– G.A., Senior Editor

Modern technology relies heavily on the amazing capabilities of the thousands of satellites that orbit Earth. However, in addition to being aware of the growing number of communications and research satellites in use, it is important to remember that damaged or obsolete equipment often remains in orbit.

The growing volume of such debris complicates efforts to launch new satellites into orbit and also poses a threat to the lives of the crew of the International Space Station due to the potential for damage caused by impacts with debris. As the demand for satellite technology can only be expected to increase in the future, it is essential that steps be taken to reduce the threat posed by space debris.

Researchers have been working for years to develop simple and effective technology that could capture or remove space debris to reduce the risk. In March 2021, a mission was undertaken by the UK Space Agency to place new technology in orbit above the Earth. Using technology developed by Astroscale Holdings headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, this mission represents the first commercial effort to actively remove debris and end-of-life technology from orbit.

Earth’s orbit is shared by every nation, but it also shared by our current generation with future generations to come. If we are able to develop technology today that can ensure that future scientists are able to safely place advanced technology into orbit, we will ensure that coming generations can also benefit from this important resource.

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