The answer to space junk is space lasers – Boing Boing

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Orbital debris, or space junk, consists of artificial objects or pieces of objects that remain in the Earth’s orbit. These objects pose a huge risk to satellites responsible for everything from communications to national defense. Somewhat counterintuitively, smaller debris poses the greatest risk. The larger objects are known and, therefore, can be tracked and avoided. There are currently over 100 million pieces of small, untracked debris. 

NASA’s report with the catchy, definitely a government agency report title “Cost and Benefit Analysis of Mitigating, Tracking, and Remediating Orbital Debris,” is a sequel to last year’s “Cost and Benefit Analysis of Orbital Debris Remediation.”

“This study allows us to start to answer the question: What are the most cost-effective actions we can take to address the growing problem of orbital debris?” said NASA analyst Jericho Locke, the lead author of the report. “By measuring everything in dollars, we can directly compare shielding spacecraft to tracking smaller debris or removing 50 large pieces of debris to removing 50,000 smaller ones.” 

NASA

According to the report:

The most effective form of remediation is just-in-time collision avoidance, which nudges large debris away from possible collisions, as needed; this approach eliminates the risk that a piece of large debris will collide with another object, which would create vast showers of untracked debris that increase mission-ending collisions for all spacecraft at altitudes below the collision. The nudges can be provided by a variety of technologies, including ground-based lasers, space-based lasers, and sounding rockets that release dust to increase drag on the debris, among others. The next-most-effective remediation action is to remove centimeter-size debris with a laser system.

Nobody tell Marjorie Taylor Green, but that’s right. The report finds that earth- and space-based lasers should be part of the solution to space junk. 

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This has nothing to do with orbital debris, but I missed National Otter Day.

Previously: The Secret Jewish Space Laser Corps has awesome swag

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