As if there weren't already enough vaguely crazy schemes to start taking care of the space junk problem, Astrium UK wants to outfit a bunch of spacecraft with harpoons and send them chasing down rogue satellites.
We are well aware just how much crap there is in space. Lots of people have suggested ways of dealing with it, but first we have to find it. The Air Force has been tracking space junk for decades with technology that's decades old, but its system is in store for a major upgrade, called Space Fence.
Space junk is becoming more and more of a problem as nations haphazardly chucks stuff up into orbit, and a variety of schemes have been proposed to deal with it, including lasers, explosions and janitor satellites. The latest idea comes from the Naval Research Lab, and it involves giant clouds of dust.
Forget solar flares, forget space garbage trucks, and forget lasers. The new and awesome and fun way to deal with the space junk is to just blow up the atmosphere!
Locals in Riacho dos Poços in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão were treated to a little surprise. A 110-pound metal sphere crashed down with a noise like "a plane that had fallen, or an earthquake," according to an onlooker. Of course, everyone's now asking: de-orbited space junk, or gibbering Space Core?
Space junk is getting to be more and more of a problem, but while there have been plenty of serious talks on the subject, the first country to actually go and do something about it may be the Swiss. By 2016, Switzerland plans to launch a "janitor satellite" to start fighting the the space junk problem directly while the rest of us keep twiddling our thumbs.
Solar flares offer us treats like spectacular low-latitude auroras, but NASA says they have practical applications, too: namely, increased solar activity can swat space junk out of orbit.
The New York Times has an interesting read about Beth O'Leary, an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University, who along with her students has fought to have humanity's (specifically America's) presence on the moon protected. A "please don't disturb the footprints" sign isn't going to cut it.
With hundreds of bits of space junk circulating in low orbit around the Earth, collisions have starting to become a real concern. Now in the latest of several plans to deal with this stuff, a group of scientists is proposing a giant Earth based laser to zap the junk out of orbit.
It seems like we just barely finished putting the ISS all together, and already the Russians have decided that by 2020, the whole thing is going to be deliberately crashed into the ocean. Wonderful.