December 17, 2020
There are many working satellites in space. We depend on them. They send information to the technology we use every day. But many other satellites are broken and still in orbit .
Space junk is a problem. Debris floating around the Earth is dangerous. It puts future space missions at risk. Experts are working on solutions. Orbital debris is a type of space junk. It is any human-made object that has stopped working. But it continues to float around the Earth. It includes satellites that are not working. It also includes broken pieces of spacecraft.
“You have a satellite or rocket stages put into space in the 1960s,” Vitali Braun told TIME for Kids. “And they’re still there.” Braun is an engineer at the European Space Agency.
Companies are working to clean up orbital debris. One is called Astroscale. It’s based in Japan. It’s planning a mission called ELSA-d. The mission will use magnets. The magnets will collect debris. Another mission is led by a company called ClearSpace. It plans to launch a spacecraft. The craft will grab pieces of old rockets.
Governments are trying to help too. Some are updating their space guidelines . This is to limit the amount of debris created. Heather Cowardin works at NASA, in the United States. “This is not a single-country problem,” she says. “We have to work on this together."