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Australian company signs deal to track space junk

Australian company signs deal to track space junk

Electro Optic Systems' Mount Stromlo observatory. Photo: Electro Optic Systems
Electro Optic Systems' Mount Stromlo observatory. Photo: Electro Optic Systems

It's a worst case scenario - a piece of space junk obliterates a satellite, creating an avalanche of junk that wipes out more satellites until they're all gone.

There'd be no weather, communication, navigation or spy satellites in Earth's orbit.

Dr Ben Greene says NASA and all major space agencies believe there is a reasonable risk of this occurring within 15 years.

"It could happen tomorrow. It's unlikely but it could. It is a race against time for us to get a solution," he said.

 Part of the solution is a new agreement between Dr Greene's company Electro-Optic Systems (EOS) and aerospace firm Lockheed Martin to develop a new network to track space junk.

With a global system of sensors, initially at EOS at Mount Stromlo, Canberra, and a new facility in Western Australia, operators can be informed of the risk of damage from space debris so they can move satellites.

"The fundamental purpose is to move satellites that are most at risk," he said.

That risk is significant.

 

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August 27, 2014


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