Man-made junk floating around in outer space could wreck weather forecasting

The Daily Star’s FREE newsletter is spectacular! Sign up today for the best stories straight to your inbox

So much man-made junk is floating around in outer space it could wreck weather forecasting.

The European Space Agency estimates 130 million bits of debris are orbiting Earth ranging from a tool bag dropped by an International Space Station astronaut in 2008 to frozen urine ejected from waste hatches.

Though most are less than 1cm in diameter nearly a million are up to 10cm wide and 34,000 larger.

Even the smallest piece of debris can cause catastrophic damage if it strikes a satellite.

A collision could caused internet connections to fail and services such as Google Maps to stop working.

Weather forecasting, satellite navigation and even banking could be affected.

London-based satellite and rocket launch insurance company Hiscox is calling for action to tackle the man-made junk because of the threat posed to current and future space operations.

The International Space Station has had to manoeuvre away from orbiting debris 26 times in its 20-year lifespan to dodge collisions.

On top of the 2,700 operational satellites in orbit there are also 3,300 defunct ones to avoid.

Hiscox is calling for better regulation to prevent debris being created and initiatives to clean up what is already there.

Get latest news headlines delivered free

Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?

We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.

Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.

You can sign up here – you won't regret it…

Underwriter Pascal Lecointe said: "Space is like the Wild West.

"And while that's partly what makes it attractive to ambitious entrepreneurs unless something is done to bring in more regulation space debris could become such a problem that certain low-Earth orbits might become unusable in the not-too-distant future.''

A failure to act could make future space launches uninsurable in the private insurance market', he added.

Larger objects such as defunct satellites can be caught with nets and sent back into Earth's atmosphere where they will break up.

But there is no known way to catch smaller objects such as paint flecks that have fallen off a rocket. Jonathan O'Callaghan, who writes about space for the Natural History Museum, warned more junk could be on the way.

"Several companies are planning vast new groups of satellites called mega constellations that will beam internet down to Earth,'' he said.

"If successful there could be an additional 50,000 satellites in orbit.

"This also means a lot more collision avoidance manoeuvres will need to be done.''

  • Space
  • Weather Forecast

Source: Read Full Article