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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Dilemma of Space Debris

Near Earth orbits are increasingly congested, raising the risk of collisions that destroy satellites. But some accidents could happen no matter what we do in response.

David Finkleman

2014-01FinklemanF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageNASA is tracking nearly 500,000 bits of junk in Earth orbit, moving at speeds up to 20,000 miles per hour. Managing the problem requires a better understanding of orbital dynamics, as well as improved ways of launching and disposing of satellites, and perhaps an active program to clean up near Earth oribts before the space debris becomes a costly and potentially disruptive problem.


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