Heavens what a mess! Understanding and dealing with the problem of space debris.
Alumni are invited to a Black Box lecture, presented by Fulbright Distinguished Chair, Professor William P. Schonberg who will explore the issue of space debris—where it comes from, how much of it there is and the risks it presents.
In 1957, the near-earth population of trackable space objects has grown from 1 to over 18,000. These objects are typically softball size or larger. Of these 18,000+ trackable objects, only several hundred are operational spacecraft. The remainder are pieces of space junk, that is, objects which no longer serve any useful purpose. Some of these objects are fragments from explosions while others are from the breakup of satellites or rocket boosters. In addition to the trackable objects, there are several hundred thousand objects the size of marbles and several million objects the size of sand grains.
In his presentation, Professor Schonberg will touch on a number of topics related to space debris, including:
- Where does space debris come from?
- How much space junk is really out there?
- What happens when a spacecraft is hit by a piece of space junk?
- How can we protect a spacecraft against damage by space debris impacts?
- Is there any way to clean up the near earth region of space?
Will the situation improve or worsen in the future?