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‘Gravity’ is not so far fetched about a space catastrophe

‘Gravity’ is not so far fetched about a space catastrophe

Space junk are piling and if not limited could reach a tipping point. (Photo Warner Bros.)
Space junk are piling and if not limited could reach a tipping point. (Photo Warner Bros.)

In one of last year’s most popular movies, Gravity, moviegoers experienced a gut-wrenching drama while rooting for Sandra Bullock to survive a dangerous encounter with space junk. Fiction? Yes, but not so far fetched.

Lawrence Wein and Andrew Bradley, two scholars from Stanford University, say the likelihood of a major space junk collision is low for now, but space-faring nations need to take responsibility for ensuring it remains so.

There have been several recent collisions in space, including a 26,000-mph accident in 2009 between an American communications satellite and an inactive Russian satellite. However, complex 3-D computer simulation models, which track every object larger than a softball in low Earth orbit, have revealed that the likelihood of a satellite experiencing a catastrophic collision with orbital debris during its operational lifetime is very small during the next 200 years.

 

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September 16, 2014


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