As more and more debris accumulates in space and circles Earth’s orbit, one researcher believes that our planet will eventually develop rings made entirely of space junk.
Jake Abbott, professor of robotics at the University of Utah, told The Salt Lake Tribune that “the Earth is on the way to having its own rings. They will just be made of garbage. “
Abbott was part of a team of researchers that published a report last month, which detailed how non-magnetic space debris can conduct electricity. According to an analysis by The Tribune, Abbott and his fellow researchers believed they had found a way by using controlled force and torque to slow spinning objects, move them, and eventually pick them up. Abbott believes the findings could be related to the collection of space debris orbiting Earth’s atmosphere.
Space debris, or known as space debris, is a growing problem with NASA reports that there are more than 27,000 pieces of space debris being tracked by the sensors of the Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN).
NASA also said there are likely a lot more debris in space that is too small to be tracked, but still large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions. Space debris travels at extremely high speeds, roughly 15,700 mph in low Earth orbit, so even a small piece of orbital debris can hit a spacecraft and create big problems.
With a growing commercial space industry, the volume of space debris is expected to grow significantly. Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, has transported nearly 900 orbital objects into space this year. according to The Verge. Amazon also has plans to ship more than 3,000 constellations of satellites to low Earth orbit to provide broadband Internet services.
The former Trump administration put together a national plan for research and development of orbital debris which sought to reduce space debris by recommending the implementation of deliberate spacecraft designs that would limit the generation of new space debris. He also recommended improving the way the US tracks and characterizes space debris and urged solutions on how to remove space debris and reuse it for productive use.
It is unclear if the Trump administration report was enacted, but the space debris problem continues, while the likelihood of Earth developing rings made of space junk, similar to those of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, neither it is entirely clear.
Some companies hope to help tackle the space debris problem like Astroscale, according to Forbes. The Japan-based company has begun construction of a prototype spacecraft that will test strategies in space that remove debris in orbit.
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