By Alex Bellury, Junior Writer
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (NEW FRONTIER NEWS) – As of 2013, there are 173 million pieces of debris in space. This number will only exponentially increase. Scientists have tried to use various methods for cleanup, such as using magnets, or giant nets to catch the debris. And with China’s first space lab, Tiangong-1, hurling closer to earth, people have been trying to find ways to clean up the debris even faster.
China has plans to shoot lasers at the debris to break it up into tiny pieces small enough to harmlessly come falling into the earth. For this to become reality though, a few things need to happen. This will take a global effort to produce the technology.
The first step is to find all the debris and track it. This requires a radar capable of detecting debris as small as a centimeter. This adds up to 670,000 pieces of debris moving as fast as 17,500 mph (28,000 kph). The US is currently making a radar that can detect anything as big as 4 CM, which makes a total of about 200,000 objects.
The next step is to design the laser system. Currently, there are already methods of cleaning up the space garbage. As of now, the methods being used are space nets, robotic arms, and harpoons.
Though technology is an obvious set back to the development of a giant space laser, other problems also arise. The biggest issue is that many countries would disapprove of a space station of that capability belonging to a single world superpower. It would be just as easy to target other countries with such a weapon.
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ESA. (2013). How many space debris objects are currently in orbit? Retrieved from esa.int: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Clean_Space/How_many_space_debris_objects_are_currently_in_orbit
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