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A token to clean up space? What is space junk and why is it a problem?

A token to clean up space? What is space junk and why is it a problem?

A computer-generated image representing the locations, but not relative sizes, of space debris as could be seen from high Earth orbit. The two main debris fields are the ring of objects in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) and the cloud of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO).

All space junk is the result of us launching objects from Earth, and it remains in orbit until it re-enters the atmosphere. Some objects in lower orbits (Low Earth Orbit (LEO)) often re-enter the atmosphere after a few years. Many of which don’t reach the ground as they burn up while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Gabbard diagram of almost 300 pieces of debris from the disintegration of the five-month-old third stage of the Chinese Long March 4 booster on 11 March 2000

A new crypto token looks to solve the space junk issue.

SKTLs space cryptocurrency looks to raise funds to clean up earth’s regional space. Where thousands of pieces of space junk fly from one direction to another in an orbit of our planet.

A drifting thermal blanket photographed in 1998 during STS-88.

SKTLs has a plan, according to their website

“Above us, a cloud of more than 9,000 tons of space junk (from the European Space Agency) is swarming around at a speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour.  This debris consists of parts of old satellites, entire defunct satellites. And rocket bodies that previously collided. Or blew up by governments testing rockets.  The debris poses risks to the International Space Station and threatens weather forecasting, GPS, and telecommunications.

Those 9,000 tons of space debris comprise 23,000 “pieces” of orbital debris (from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) larger than 10cm  and approximately 500,000 particles between 1 and 10cm.  As you can see in Figure 1 below. The problem gets worse with more and more satellites launched each year by various space ventures.   Every time another satellite or human or rocket launches into space. There is more risk for more space debris. And eventually, if this problem does not have a solution. It will limit humankind’s ability to be a spacefaring species. 

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Figure 1 (From US Space Surveillance Network):  Monthly Number of Objects in Earth’s Orbit by Object Type

Space debris, as defined by the creators of the SKTLs token. Also includes asteroids and other celestial bodies that can impact the Earth. Space debris usually specifically refers to all the paint and pieces of junk that are in orbit around the world, zooming around at 17,000 miles per hour.

Most of that space debris is man-made, but that isn’t the only issue of “debris” in space.

Indeed, a potentially more direct threat to the people living on planet Earth. Is the billions of asteroids and comets in our solar system. In fact, NASA data (from National Aeronautics and Space Administration) suggests that more than 100 tons of space dust burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere every day. Most of it from asteroids that have disintegrated. 

Spent upper stage of a Delta II rocket, photographed by the XSS 10 satellite

Approximately 65 million years ago (from The Planetary Society) was the last time a major near-Earth object (NEO) killed most of the living things on our home planet. And while that may seem like a long time ago, think about the fact that our solar system is nearly 5 billion years old. The universe itself is almost 15 billion years old. It’s not impossible or even unlikely that over the next few million years another near-Earth object like an asteroid the size of a baseball field could come around.  While it’s a very small chance that such an event occurs anytime in the next few years or decades, it is possible. The “Space Debris” problem includes possible NEOs and the development of asteroid mitigation technologies. 

Baker-Nunn cameras were widely used to study space debris.

Defending our planet, literally Planetary Defense, is the effort to prevent asteroid or comet impact.

The SKTLs Space Cleanup Fund will also accept proposals to fund ways to defend our planet against such threats as part of each year’s grants.”

Vanguard 1 is expected to remain in orbit for 240 years.

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A token to clean up space? What is space junk and why is it a problem?