Obama's New Space Policy Includes Cleaning Up Space Junk

nasa space debris model image

Image credit NASA

Announced earlier this week, President Obama's new National Space Policy is focusing on pollution both here on Earth and the space surrounding it. The new policy hopes to see an international collaboration to hone in on monitoring climate change with satellites and cleaning up space debris, which is viewed as a threat to space exploration (to which some astronauts experiencing close calls can attest!).
Popular Science writes, "The biggest news is Obama's focus on international cooperation, a departure from his predecessor. Specifically, he wants countries to work together to clean up space junk, which the Pentagon has said is a threat. The 14-page document also explains how the U.S. will use space to study Earth, and how NASA will cede ground to the private sector, working with commercial firms to develop new modes of space transport."

After the surprisingly gross images that came out in 2008 showing how much debris is floating around our planet, the problem of our orbits acting as a giant dump has become a well-known issue. The space debris causes some hair-raising close calls for satellites and spacecrafts, though just how to clean it up is still a conundrum. Some creative minds have been put to the task of dreaming up solutions, including wild ideas like launching water at the junk to knock it out of orbit, but the new space plan will hopefully focus on devising something more practical.

Also, NASA will expand climate research, including tasking satellites with documenting information on natural and human-caused climate change, land and water changes, and weather forecasting.

In all, the document lacks specifics, but at least these two important aspects of space research won't be ignored. Much.

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