Home > Uncategorized > Chicken Little – A Modern Day Story

Chicken Little – A Modern Day Story

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

These are the words of Chicken Little, a character in a well-known children’s book who thinks the sky is falling after an acorn falls from a tree and hits Chicken Little on the head. In some versions of the story, Chicken Little convinces her animal friends to go with her to tell the king that the sky is falling only to be sent back home with assurances the sky wasn’t going to fall.

Yet if the story of Chicken Little were set in today’s times, it would be a different story altogether. Just substitute scientists for Chicken Little, a satellite for the acorn, and voila! You get this article in the New York Times.

Scientists and NASA experts are growing increasingly concerned over the amount of space junk in Earth’s lower atmosphere. This comes as no surprise, as within the past two years alone two satellites have crashed into Earth. However, scientists agree that although the likelihood of collisions of Earth are small, the likelihood of collisions with other space technology such as the International Space Station and important satellites is increasing.

Researchers are working on creating technology that would clear up orbital space around Earth. Technology in developmental stages range from balloons and lasers that would push space junk out of orbit (to then burn up harmlessly in Earth’s lower atmosphere) to an $11 million dollar claw that would grab onto space junk before dragging both itself and the junk to burn in lower orbits.

Yet the question is, just how complicated is it to solve the space-junk issue?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as writing THE END. There are many debates as to which method is the most effective at removing space junk, as well as extensive international politics. Space objects are owned by the nations that put them into orbit, and only those nations can bring them down. International agreements and policies are currently developing very slow as countries debate and often get distracted by other pressing international issues.

Do you think that space pollution and the removal of space junk is an issue that the international community should be focusing on more? Who should be responsible for its removal? What’s your favorite new technology to deal with space cleanup?

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  1. February 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    As much as I love the idea of having a gigantic claw capable of reaching into space to pull and prod at the various floating debris in Earth’s lower atmosphere, I don’t think most countries are in a good position to fund such a venture. The development, creation, and testing of various tools to remove space junk would cost an astronomical amount, no pun intended. It seems to me that the space programs are not as active as they were during the Cold War time period, and as such the amount of space junk is going to remain fairly stable for at least a little while. Satellites are constantly managed and observed by the government to ensure that they run at the highest level of efficiency, so they are fairly well looked after. All in all, I’m saying while space junk is and will be increasingly problematic as the years go by it is not one that any one country is equipped to handle as of now.

  2. johnwmanning
    February 27, 2012 at 2:00 am

    I think that this is an issue that the superpowers should focus on a little more. There could be major diplomatic problems if something bad were to happen with all of the space junk that is out there. What would happen if an American satellite crashes into the International Space Station or if a satellite should fall to earth in a not-so-friendly nation? I know the odds of something falling on land are very low, but the possibility is still there. I know that this issue isn’t a big concern now, but the best type of maintenance is always preventative maintenance. If we can come together on this issue now, than we won’t have to worry about an international incident later on.

  3. February 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I would have never known our problems with trash and waste has officially traveled outside of the earth’s atmosphere. Clearly, this is a big issue and it is yet another issue added to the high pile of problems of reality. Just thinking about a satellite falling from the earth and landing on you makes me laugh because it seems so unrealistic. But, reading this post it clearly is not a funny matter. We need to find way to clean up space, so space waste can be removed.

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