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A Japanese Effort To Remove Hazardous Space Junk Has Failed
08 February 2017, 12:40 | Judith Quinn
Japan's mission to clear junk in space ends in failure
Space junk, which consists predominantly of debris from satellites and rockets that has broken off during collisions and started orbiting the Earth, has become a growing problem for astronauts (see the 2013 movie, "Gravity.) While researchers estimate that more than 100 million pieces of the rubbish orbit the Earth, they don't know the full extent of the issue - in part because the vast majority are smaller than a baseball, making the fragments hard to detect and track down".
"It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives", Inoue added.
JAXA was experimenting with an electrodynamic tether to pull junk out of Earth's orbit and to clear up tons of garbage whizzing around the planet.
A Japanese cargo craft fell back to Earth on Sunday after delivering supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and attempting a novel space-junk experiment. The ISS must be shielded from objects but has difficulty picking up pieces that are smaller than two inches, and as more stuff gets put into space, the space junk problem worsens, leading authorities to try to figure out ways to clean it up. If these collisions progress unchecked, the amount of debris in low Earth orbit will make spaceflight unfeasible. If one of those pieces of metal slams into a functioning satellite or a crew-carrying spacecraft in orbit, it could create serious -- even deadly - issues. The effort was meant to neutralize space debris from cast-off equipment from old satellites and pieces of rocket.
The scale of the problem is staggering.
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A cloud of space junk threatens satellites and future spaceflight.
But other spacecraft haven't been so lucky.
Japan's experimental mission to remove trash from orbit around the Earth has failed miserably.
For example, in 2009, a dead Russian satellite collided with an operational USA satellite, producing about 700 pieces of space junk in the process.
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