For those who haven’t kept up on their space news, space junk is a growing problem that people simply can’t figure out how to handle. With an estimated 18,000 pieces of junk floating around in space (and that’s only counting pieces larger than 4 inches), the risks of collisions and damage to satellites are constantly increasing.
Now, Stanford University scientists believe they have a solution—though it certainly has a long path to approval, let alone implementation. They have suggested that countries that don’t dispose of space waste properly should be fined, on the grounds that establishing a formal international framework will encourage responsible behavior provide incentives to clean up the royal space mess. Any funds collected could be used to compensate owners of satellites damaged by debris, or to research cheaper ways to de-orbit satellites (though we can also count on a little stimulus cash to help with that one).
Anyone planning a visit to space—where an object no larger than even a speck of paint can have the same effect as a bullet—would be smart to back this plan.
80beats: Experts Declare War on Space Junk… So What Do We Do Now?
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Bad Astronomy: Track Satellite Debris with Google