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Magnetic space tug could target dead satellites

Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces.
This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.
Such satellite swarms are being considered for future astronomy or Earth-observing missions - if their relative positions can stay stable they could act as a single giant telescope.

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Space junk: The cluttered frontier

NASA and the U.S. Department of Defence are using ground-based telescopes and laser radars (ladars) to track more than 17,000 orbital debris objects to help prevent collisions with operating missions. Such ladars shine high-powered lasers at target objects, measuring the time it takes for the laser pulse to return to Earth, to pinpoint debris in the sky.
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The race to destroy space garbage

Millions of pieces of man-made trash are now orbiting the Earth. Some are tiny, others are large enough to be seen with a telescope, but all pose a risk to space craft and satellites.
And according to experts the threat is growing as space becomes more and more crowded.

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Trouble in orbit: the growing problem of space junk

In 2014, the International Space Station had to move three times to avoid lethal chunks of space debris. The problem also threatens crucial and costly satellites in orbit. So what is the scale of the space junk problem, and what can we do about it?
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Space Debris Monitoring and Application Centre
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Chinese Agency set to track, deal with space junk

China established a specialized agency on Monday to track and deal with space debris in response to the increasing threat posed to the nation's space assets by orbiting junk. The Space Debris Monitoring and Application Centre, part of the China National Space Administration, is responsible for tracking waste, analysing hazards, developing prevention and disposal plans, setting up a database and communicating with other nations and international organisations.
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Scuttling satellites to save space

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Space debris collisions expected to rise

Unless space debris is actively tackled, some satellite orbits will become extremely hazardous over the next 200 years, a new study suggests.
The research found that catastrophic collisions would likely occur every five to nine years at the altitudes used principally to observe the Earth.
 
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Space debris
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Junk radio signals track all space debris in one go

Call it Junk FM. Rogue signals from your radio may help warn about space debris on a dangerous collision course with Earth.
As New Scientist went to press, astronomers at the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope in Western Australia were analysing the results of a trial to see whether stray FM signals from radios, bouncing back off space junk, could allow them to track the whole population of space debris.
The MWA is a set of some 2000 radio antennas spread out over 3 kilometres. The team used these to pick up rebounding FM signals and track the International Space Station.

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Focus on space debris: Envisat

Space debris came into focus last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. Envisat, ESAs largest Earth observation satellite, ended its mission last spring and was a subject of major interest in the Space Debris and Legal session.
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Space 'harpoon' tested in search for answer to junk in orbit

With tens of thousands of pieces of "space junk" in orbit, officials and experts from the world's space agencies are meeting to discuss how to clean it up.
The risk is that old spacecraft - dead satellites and used-up rockets - could collide with satellites needed for navigation, communications and weather forecasting.

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