The area of space surrounding our planet is dirty, filled with man made junk left from "space programs in the last 50 years." And while the Swiss are planning on building a "kamikaze janitor satellite" to tackle the problem, "the Australian government is developing technology that they think will allow us to deorbit small bits of space debris with ground-based laser."
That in and of itself would be useful: Right now, our basic strategy is to maneuver satellites around the 500,000 pieces of debris that make up low Earth orbit. Thats impossible if you dont know where they are. But Colless says the center has much more ambitious goals.
Long term, we want to try to manipulate things so theyll deorbit, he said.
That, of course, is the goal. Were going to need to get these things out of orbit somehow, and we havent had a good way of doing it. Using the same technology that will be used to track the junk, Colless says you can theoretically power up the laser even more to essentially push small pieces of junk lower and lower until they eventually fall out of orbit altogether.
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