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Aussie Lasers To Stop Satellite Collisions, Death

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the elaborate-postponement dept.

Space 84

bennyboy64 writes "An Australian company is developing a laser tracking system that will help prevent collisions between satellites and space debris, ZDNet reports. 'The trouble is it's [debris] in orbit and travelling at orbital speeds, which means that it is travelling at about 30,000 kilometres an hour," said the CEO of the Australian company. 'If even a tiny little piece runs into a satellite it'll destroy it or punch a hole through a person if they're out there space walking.'"

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84 comments

Say What? (4, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922544)

The Australians have a laser than can stop death? Now that is news I can use! Where can I get one?

Asteroids! (3, Funny)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922596)

Sounds like the old Asteroids game. If they're looking for volunteers, I'd be happy to put my years of experience to good use.

Re:Say What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922600)

The Australians have a laser than can stop death? Now that is news I can use! Where can I get one?

The dark wavelength of the laser is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be... unnatural.

Is it possible to learn these powers?

Only from an Aussie...

Re:Say What? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924038)

Is it possible to learn these powers?

Only from an Aussie...

He'll just smile, and give you a vegemite sandwich.

Re:Say What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32924158)

Well that, or he might chunder on you.

Re:Say What? (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923032)

LAZARS! The best way to stop any threat. Falling satellites? Lasers! Massive earthquakes? LAZARS! The Bubonic Plague? SUPER-LAZARZ!

And if you can attach them to cats, all the better.

Re:Say What? (1)

Amarantine (1100187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924380)

Massive earthquakes? LAZARS!

Yes, i've seen that in a rather shocking real life documentary on SyFy, called MegaFault. They could stop an earthquake ripping open half the US (avoiding large cities, thank God) by firing lasers at it. Then some lave came up, then something froze, it got all too high-tech for me... But the same mastermind that designed KITT in the new Knight Rider was behind it, i am grateful we have such geniusses with us in this era.

Re:Say What? (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923412)

Where can I get one?

They're attached to the heads of our sharks.

Re:Say What? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32926304)

Where can I get one?

They're attached to the heads of our sharks.

No, it's worse than that the Australian implementation will use saltwater crocodiles, they wanted an amphibious weapon system!

Re:Say What? (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32925000)

They already have lasers that can often stop death. You'll find them in hospitals; lasers are used in all sorts of surgeries. My retina specialist used one on me that stopped blindness, [yahoo.com] although I later had to undergo traditional surgery (a vitrectomy) when the retina detached. I journaled about it here. [slashdot.org]

The implications are astounding (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922556)

I hope they've considered the potential for over-population and the ethical issues if only the rich can afford this tech.

Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (3, Funny)

euroq (1818100) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922568)

Wow, sharks with frickin' laser beams are in space, saving humanity from impending doom!

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (0, Redundant)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922604)

Wow, sharks with frickin' laser beams are in space, saving humanity from impending doom!

I think the sharks with frickin' laser beams would be in space destroying these lasers, to accelerate humanity towards impending doom.

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923198)

And thus begins the 'sharks with lasers' arms race...

Whoever can grow the largest mutant shark, and then attach the largest frickin' laser to it's head and then fling it into orbit with a trebuchet first wins!

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (2, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922684)

Not the sharks, we prefer to ride crocs with laser beams.

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923450)

Not the sharks, we prefer to ride crocs with laser beams.

The world would thank you if you just used the laser to destroy all crocs [crocs.com].

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (2, Funny)

shadowblaster (1565487) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922688)

I'm sure you meant kangaroos with frickin' laser beams!

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922726)

I'm sure you meant kangaroos with frickin' laser beams!

Kangaroos with LEDs would cut the country road toll. You just need some of those power generators which slide a magnet through a coil.

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32925608)

Kangaroos are dangerous. :-) I remember reading an article several years ago where the military re-purposed a first person shooter as a training game for pilots. The program was tweaked such that the aircraft responded almost exactly like that of the real craft. But they didn't bother with the other characters other than to make them appear as native wildlife and such.

On one training session a training pilot decided to swoop down on a pack of kangaroos and have some fun. What happened? The kangaroos ran into the woods (or cave, I forget which) and immediately re-appeared with RPGs and shoulder-fired missiles and proceeded to shoot down the virtual aircraft. The upper brass ultimately decided to leave that in to enforce the facts that 1) you always stay on mission, and 2) you never know what you might encounter during a military mission...

Re:Sharks with frickin' laser beams! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32927220)

I'm sure you meant kangaroos with frickin' laser beams!

Don't be ridiculous.
Every good programmer knows that kangaroos use rocket launchers.

Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922582)

Electro Optic Systems' laser technology, with the help of a federal government grant, will enable the Mount Stromlo observatory in Canberra to track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA.

Reading the summary I had hopes they had a laser rocket thing worked out: you heat the leading edge of a bit of space junk. Gas comes off that side and pushes the fragment backwards so it re-enters the atmosphere. But no. Its just a better way to detect the particles.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922612)

and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA.

NASA is a company?

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (0, Offtopic)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922706)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner. I guess the budget's only for hookers and blow.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922708)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner.

NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (2, Interesting)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923232)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner. I guess the budget's only for hookers and blow.

NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

Woah, NASA has hookers and blow in low earth orbit? Damn it someone send up the black-jack tables STAT and we'll have ourselves a profitable endeavor...

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923382)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner. I guess the budget's only for hookers and blow.

NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

Woah, NASA has hookers and blow in low earth orbit? Damn it someone send up the black-jack tables STAT and we'll have ourselves a profitable endeavor...

You had your chance when Pete Conrad was on Skylab.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (0, Redundant)

Hooya (518216) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923290)

> NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

if a briquette is a small brick. what is an asset?

I guess it works better when spoken, not spelled. I have that though going through my mind when in meetings where people talk business-speak with "assets and resources".

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32925092)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner.

NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

If so, why did you post "(satellite owners) and (companies like NASA)" ? And before I forget: whoosh.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32933880)

More importantly, it's not a satellite owner.

NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit.

If so, why did you post "(satellite owners) and (companies like NASA)" ? And before I forget: whoosh.

I quoted "(satellite owners) and (companies like NASA)". I don't see a problem with "NASA has lots of assets in low earth orbit." Don't they?

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922716)

to track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA

*on phone* Hello, NASA? Hi, I'm ******** at the Mount Stromlo observatory in Canberra. We've just detected several objects on a collision course with the manned space station. We can provide you with a safe trajectory to avoid what will otherwise certainly be a catastrophic and fatal collision, but first, how much is that information worth to you?

Of course, it could be worse:

*on phone* Yo, NASA! Listen, this is Vinnie callin from Brooklyn. My associates at tha observahtory in Sicily tell me that there might be some flyin space debris or some shit headin towards ya station. I'd like to sell you some infamation to prevent anythin bad from happenin to it, what with the future of science dependin on it an all. I mean, you wouldn want another one a dem Columbia disastas on ya hands, now would ya?

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (2, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922736)

Electro Optic Systems' laser technology, with the help of a federal government grant, will enable the Mount Stromlo observatory in Canberra to track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA.

But no. Its just a better way to detect the particles.

Huh? Not event that, mate, for the time being is manual. From TFA:

"It's still a manually operated system, so this grant will transition us to commercial operation and automate that whole system so it can actually run unattended," Smith said.

Yeah, sure I imagine that there is actually some automation in place, but... if left only to imagination... is also funny to imagine a person using a laser pointer to search/detect junk in space (TFA doesn't say a word how they a conducting the search/tracking using the laser!)

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922766)

Just point the beam in a single direction and look for reflections. Once you start picking up the same particles over and oevr just redirect the beam slightly. Either way you collect a stream of data.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922836)

Just point the beam in a single direction and look for reflections. Once you start picking up the same particles over and oevr just redirect the beam slightly. Either way you collect a stream of data.

Unless you fan out the laser beam (and loose intensity), I reckon the probability to capture something is lower than winning the Tats Lotto - which wouldn't make a good business case. Should be something more sophisticated than what you suggest.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922872)

I considered using a rotating mirror to scan the sky. The question is whether your system can work fast enough to actually capture more particles that way?

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (3, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922942)

The question is whether your system can work fast enough to actually capture more particles that way?

This is where the analogy with the TatsLotto serves. Either way: play always you favourite numbers (keep thye beam in the same position) or change them from one game to the other (sweep the sky), the probability to win is the same if you play a single ticket (using a narrow beam).
Granted, if you know a region where is more probable to find what you are looking for, the analogy with Lotto stops. But also exploring only in a certain region will make you prone to miss other debris that may knock down a satellite of your customers.

I reckon that using a slightly divergent beam (even better, a divergence controlled one) would improve the chances better than narrow-beam sky-sweeping method (not that the two methods are exclusive).

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922934)

Lasers of that power are certainly more expensive than the lower-power tracking variety; but I suspect that the major stumbling block would be political.

There are, for instance, a number of influential entities with rather expensive satellites continually exposing fancy CCDs through even fancier optics. A laser powerful enough to blow vapor off of space junk, focused through the sort of optics used in ground surveillance satellites, shining on a piece of silicon specifically designed to be light sensitive. Yeah, that'd make the National Reconnaissance Office really happy...

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923404)

They'd need to send up new birds. I see this as a perfect chance to revitalize American industry, or industry in whatever Asian country makes satellites these days.

Re:Like radar, but shorter wavelengths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32936910)

I thought this was a laser you mount ON the satellite and it would track and shoot debris that was on a collision course with it. That would be super frickin cool.

Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922618)

On an off note, how much space debris would be needed to protect ourselves from potential alien invasions? (or at least convince aliens that our society is too backwards to consider conquering)

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922704)

Probably more than it would take for the environmentally-fanatic aliens to become enraged and drop a blob of red matter into our planet's core...

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922954)

I suspect that the answer depends too heavily on technological hypotheticals to say anything really useful...

If they arrive on some delicate, bubble-like world ship that is planning on entering earth orbit? Not actually all that much.

If they've invented a classic sci-fi "energy shield"? Probably enough to preclude nearly all human satellite activity.

If "they" are actually just a drifting cloud of space-hard spores or berserker nanites? Nothing short of a solid shell will be of the slightest use.

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32923252)

One Oort cloud should do it, which is coincidentally why we haven't been invaded yet.

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923718)

Protection? Gonna have to go with obscurity.

If aliens can move about the galaxy freely, the ships would have to be large to hold a sustained, reproducing population. That means they can move lots of mass. Hello, asteroid bombardment.

If they can move at greater speeds, then they can do the same with whatever solids they find floating about. Hello, relativistic bombardment.

Scroll down a bit to the excerpt from The Killing Star. http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x2.html#rbomb [projectrho.com]

'course, that's just annihilation. I don't really see the point of conquering. ...unless they think we're pretty tasty but even that seems unlikely.

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32925286)

Depends on the aliens --- Hal Clement's 1952 short story ``Halo'' touches on this w/ an interesting twist.

William

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32929980)

Probably not that much more. There is a threshold where debris starts colliding off of other objects, shattering them and turning other pieces into high velocity impact rounds, where essentially nothing can pass through the orbits for the hundreds to thousands of years it would take until the pieces slowly lost velocity and decayed in the atmosphere.

I remember one country actually was thinking about that as a battle plan -- getting various weaponry past the earth orbit, then blowing up stuff in the major orbits (geosync and lower orbits) so no objects could get past to ensure that that nation had supreme control of the ultimate high ground. It was also to destroy any hope of having working GPS and global communication systems.

Re:Field of extraterrestrial defense? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#32930020)

Now, here is something I'd like to see... someone being able to make a way to deorbit space debris in a way so other objects are not at risk at that orbit level.

punch a hole through a person? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922692)

Are they just making shit up or what? 30,000 mph is relative to the ground. Anything orbiting with be near that speed, including the space men. Someone tell me I'm wrong, and please tell me why. It seems to me the relative velocities would be small.

Re:punch a hole through a person? (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922748)

Are they just making shit up or what? 30,000 mph is relative to the ground. Anything orbiting with be near that speed, including the space men. Someone tell me I'm wrong, and please tell me why. It seems to me the relative velocities would be small.

The particles you collide with could be in the same orbit but going the other way, though this is unlikely. More likely they could be in a different orbital plane so they sideswipe you at significant speed, or in an orbit with a different eccentricity so they have a decent relative velocity. Many particles cross each others paths with the speed of a fast bullet.

Not always orbiting in the same direction (5, Informative)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922752)

Sure, 30,000 mph is relative to the ground. The velocity of a piece of space junk relative to an astronaut could well be 60,000 mph if it's going the other way round. Even if both junk and astronaut are orbiting west-to-east, they could be on divergent ellipses. So collision speeds could go anywhere from 0 to 60,000 mph. Heck, I'm pretty sure that a collision at a velocity difference of "just" 1,000 mph would hurt.

Cheers,

Re:Not always orbiting in the same direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32922780)

Did you mean Kilometres per hour? or even Kilometers per hour?

Re:Not always orbiting in the same direction (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32924740)

Orbital velocity is about 17,000 MPH, so the 30,000 number already accounts for the particle going in the opposite direction, more or less.

Re:punch a hole through a person? (3, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922784)

It seems to me the relative velocities would be small.

If the trajectories are sort-of aligned, which doesn't need to be. I think you can imagine two bodies orbiting in opposite senses or on polar/equatorial orbits: the problem of resolving the relative velocity is left as a homework.

Can't we just accrete the stuff (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922696)

and form "Islands in the Sky [slashdot.org]"?

Re:Can't we just accrete the stuff (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923000)

Orders of magnitude less dense, and considerably less cooperative.

There are certainly a few large bits and pieces that could probably be of great use to, say, hypothetical Mars explorers(the ISS, maybe a few of the larger junk satellites or upper rocket stages); but the overwhelming majority of the stuff is tiny little bits and pieces, zipping around at horrid velocities in a variety of orbits across a vast volume of space. By comparison the (fairly tenuous and soupy) Pacific garbage patch is practically solid, and it is all more or less sitting there, just waiting to be scooped up, rather than zooming around(plus, life is much easier when you can get your capture apparatus shipped in by boat, rather than by rocket).

Not at All (5, Insightful)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922858)

"track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA"

So, basically, it doesn't *do* anything. They use it like...oh, a telescope or something, and then *sell* their observations.

Yippee. Shouldn't a project funded by federal grants not be eligible to sell their findings but be required to provide them freely to the public? Seems a little wrong to me.

Re:Not at All (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32922892)

"track space junk and sell the data it collects to satellite owners and companies like NASA"

So, basically, it doesn't *do* anything. They use it like...oh, a telescope or something, and then *sell* their observations.

Yippee. Shouldn't a project funded by federal grants not be eligible to sell their findings but be required to provide them freely to the public? Seems a little wrong to me.

CSIRO patents their discoveries and sells licenses to use them. This doesn't seem very different to me.

Re:Not at All (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923396)

Shouldn't a project funded by federal grants not be eligible to sell their findings but be required to provide them freely to the public? Seems a little wrong to me.

Why can't the Australian government make an investment?

Besides, should things developed with Australian taxpayer money be free to anyone to use? What about things developed with UK funds? Or US funds? I wouldn't at all be surprised if they did provide this information for free if an Australian satellite was about to be hit.

Re:Not at All (1)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923674)

Yippee. Shouldn't a project funded by federal grants not be eligible to sell their findings but be required to provide them freely to the public? Seems a little wrong to me.

The 'federal' in the article refers to the Australian federal government not the US one. Just like the US undoubtedly charges us (Australia) for the information from its satellites (we don't have many of our own :() our government should charge you guys for the stuff we pick up with this.

Re:Not at All (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32924478)

You do understand that Australia is not in the United States? Right?

Re:Not at All (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32926040)

I thought so until US agents took over the security of Australia's House of Parliment for Dick Cheney's visit.

Pewpewpew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32923040)

What, no tags with reference to sharks or pewpewpew? Slashdot, you're slipping!

/pewpewpew

let me get this straight... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923520)

Oz is going to blast hundreds of thousands of orbiting bit into hundreds of millions of bits?
Then what? Duck tape?

Re:let me get this straight... (1)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924006)

I think you mean duct tape.
Also I think you've got it wrong. The article gives me the impression that they are not going to blast the particles, merely locate them.
With the data of where the particles are and so on, it wouldn't be so hard to map out collision courses and hence determine how to move your satellite/astronaut out of the way.
From the article: Unfortunately, the lasers won't blast junk out of the sky. "At the moment it doesn't get rid of it," Smith said. "What it does allow is for us to track the orbits very accurately, and if we have accurate orbit determination then you can determine whether you're going to run into space debris."

Re:let me get this straight... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#32927596)

Sounds like finger-painting to me. Really, really expensive finger-painting.
As for duct/duck/duc/duk tape, would you prefer low chloride HP tape?

PlanetES (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32923654)

Sounds like a Planet ES story to me.

in which case, by all means, put an end to space junk before we need to go out there to collect it ourselves at those speeds.

Re:PlanetES (1)

xSander (1227106) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924136)

Why is Planetes spelled as two words? Cause it's not. It's Greek (ever guessed why they used Greek letters in the title sequence?) for "planets" or (loosely) "wanderers".

Re:PlanetES (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924150)

I do it for the morons that have to search the torrents for it as a separate set of words. I have the actual DVD collection, and while I know I paid for it, most likely won't and so they'll need a decent rip, so giving it out by name works better than having them hunt it down. I don't provide anything but words.

tracking is not the problem....computing power is (1)

Dr La (1342733) | more than 3 years ago | (#32924350)

It is not tracking that is the problem. USSTRATCOM (formerly NORAD) tracks everything in LEO from decimeter size, plus a lot smaller stuff.

The real bottleneck is in the computer power to:

1) sort out which detections concern the same object;
2)calculate all the potential risk situations for these thousands of objects

orbital speeds... (1)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 3 years ago | (#32925402)

'The trouble is it's [debris] in orbit and travelling at orbital speeds, which means that it is travelling at about 30,000 kilometres an hour," said the CEO of the Australian company. 'If even a tiny little piece runs into a satellite it'll destroy it or punch a hole through a person if they're out there space walking.'

Umm, maybe I'm not recalling middleschool science classes correctly - but when you're "space walking" you're ALSO moving at "orbital speeds"

So - how would the space debris punch a hole through a person if they were space walking? Sure, if it's traveling in a different direction it *might* - but still: the astronaut is moving at the same speed as the shuttle as the satellite they're deploying/fixing

Not quite (1)

imtheguru (625011) | more than 3 years ago | (#32927236)

'The trouble is it's [debris] in orbit and travelling at orbital speeds, which means that it is travelling at about 30,000 kilometres an hour," said the CEO of the Australian company. 'If even a tiny little piece runs into a satellite it'll destroy it or punch a hole through a person if they're out there space walking.'

Umm, maybe I'm not recalling middleschool science classes correctly - but when you're "space walking" you're ALSO moving at "orbital speeds"

So - how would the space debris punch a hole through a person if they were space walking? Sure, if it's traveling in a different direction it *might* - but still: the astronaut is moving at the same speed as the shuttle as the satellite they're deploying/fixing

Debris can be moving in any random orbit. Consider the failed deployments, broken-off or detached bits and the initial force which set the debris into motion.

"Predict", Not "Prevent" (1)

Toad-san (64810) | more than 3 years ago | (#32925640)

Very poor wording in that article / title there. Our Ozzian brethren aren't gonna prevent anything.

Silly Putty in Space! (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 3 years ago | (#32927776)

Why not put several large chunks of Silly Putty in space to sweep up the space debris? You could even put it in orbit in front of the object you wish to protect and then track the silly putty, since as things impact it its trajectory would change.
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