A new interactive satellite map and “space junk” was launched, showing hundreds of thousands of objects orbiting Earth.
Besides many active satellites, the map shows inactive technologies, rocket bodies used to launch the devices and debris.
Many of these old rocket bodies have been described by lead researcher Moriba Jah as “ticking time bombs” due to the potential risk of collisions.
Jah said they could strike active satellites that provide essential systems on Earth, or explode into thousands of pieces, leading to “superspreading events” as they continue to orbit the planet.
Produced by the Oden Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the US government, the Astria Project is both free and open source, meaning anyone can view it and see where the information is being collected from. .
Jah told CGTN Europe that AstriaGraph is intended to bring together all global satellite tracking projects and create a database for near-Earth orbit exploration and reform.
Although research is essential, the main objective of the map is simple.
“It’s about trying to minimize collisions with each other in orbit and bumping into each other at night, so to speak,” Jah told CGTN.
While the effects of space junk can seem, quite literally, out of sight and out of mind, Jah pointed out that’s not always the case.
“Very recently, we saw one of these second-stage rockets land somewhere near Seattle…Propulsion didn’t happen, and so it was left to Mother Nature to figure out how it was going to be. And unfortunately, he survived the re-entry and he landed near Seattle,” he said.
Fortunately, no one was hurt this time, but with the increase in traffic in Earth orbit, the risk of errors and accidents is increasing. Hopefully AstriaGraph can be the beginning of the solution to a problem that started in the 1950s.