Laser technology combined with ultra-sensitive cameras helps to track space junk more closely, reducing the risk of collisions with satellites.
Large amounts of space junk could endanger satellites. Photo: VOX.
The team from the University of Bern first observed cosmic debris with geodetic lasers at the Zimmerwald Observatory, Phys on August 28, reported. The projected laser will bounce back and scatter out when it encounters space trash. The scientists would then track the laser’s photons with a super-sensitive camera that could pick up signals under sunlight.
Cosmic debris are unused man-made objects that exist in space. In some areas, the risk of a collision is so high that active satellites must regularly adjust their orbits to avoid space junk. Every year, the European Space Agency (ESA) processes thousands of collision warnings for each of its satellites and performs dozens of orbital adjustments.
In the majority of cases, the subject at risk of collision is one of about 20,000 known garbage objects. “Unfortunately, experts do not know the exact trajectory of space trash including unused satellites, the upper deck of the rocket, debris from explosions or collisions,” said Professor Thomas Schildknecht, deputy director of the Institute of Heaven. Literature of the University of Bern, explains. Therefore, scientists are often unable to determine if an orbital correction phase, which is often very expensive, is really necessary and helps to reduce risk.
Measuring the distance to space junk by satellite laser scoping is quite effective, helping to accurately determine the flight path within a few meters. “We have been using this technology at the Zimmerwald Observatory for many years to measure objects equipped with special laser reflectors,” says Schildknecht. But in the past, this method could only be used at night at a few observatories.
“The ability to observe space garbage in the daytime allows to increase the number of measurements. There are many observatories equipped with geodetic lasers, so scientists can catalog space junk orbits with high accuracy in “A more precise orbit is essential to avoid collisions, improve safety and sustainability in space”, commented Schildknecht.