NASA reveals Earth’s ‘mini-moon’ 2020 SO is definitely just space junk

centaurupperstage1964

This photo from 1964 shows a Centaur upper-stage rocket. Space object 2020 SO is one of these.


NASA

Welcome back, Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket booster. We just got a new chapter in a bittersweet space saga that involves a fiery launch, a doomed moon mission and decades of space wanderings. 

A rocket booster NASA used to launch the Surveyor 2 lunar lander in 1966 has returned to us for a temporary spin as a mini-moon in orbit around Earth. When scientists spotted it in September, they named it 2020 SO. On Wednesday, NASA announced the strange object has been positively identified as the ’60s booster.

While the booster did its job admirably back in 1966, the lander didn’t survive a crash landing on the moon’s surface.   

The booster’s specific orbit around the sun tipped astronomers

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European Space Agency is sending a giant claw into orbit to clean up space junk

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The Claaaaaaaaaaaaawwww…


ClearSpace

There are roughly 2,800 live satellites currently orbiting Earth. That’s a lot, but it’s absolutely nothing compared to the amount of defunct objects — AKA space junk — also circling the globe

Scientists estimate that almost 3,000 dead satellites are currently orbiting our planet, which doesn’t account for the 900,000 pieces of debris, less than 10 centimetres long, that could potentially cause a catastrophe should it hit the wrong satellite at the wrong time. 

Scientists and engineers are currently hard at work trying to solve the problem, but the European Space Agency is currently in the beginning stages of executing one of the more bizarre solutions: A space claw that will grip larger defunct satellites and steer them back into the earth’s atmosphere where

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The ESA is spending $100 million to clean up one piece of space junk



a body of water: space junk cleanup


© Provided by BGR
space junk cleanup

  • The European Space Agency is paying the equivalent of over $100 million to remove a single piece of manmade space junk from Earth orbit.
  • The ClearSpace-1 mission will launch in 2025 and attempt to bring down a rocket payload adapter.
  • The mission will be critical in demonstrating how future cleanup efforts may be possible.

We all love seeing rockets launch, carrying scientific equipment and sometimes human beings into space. It’s cool, and it’s proof that when humans put their minds to something they can accomplish great things. Unfortunately, launching things into space leaves a lot of trash behind, often floating in orbit around Earth for months or, in some cases, many years.

Space junk is a huge problem that is growing bigger by the day. Discarded rocket components, bits and pieces of old, defunct satellites, and even abandoned space stations (looking at you,

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Fighting space junk: UT, IBM project aims to bring order to orbital chaos – Business – Austin American-Statesman

It’s getting crowded in Earth’s orbital space.

More than half a million man-made objects — ranging from as small as a speck to as large as a school bus — are orbiting the planet at a variety of speeds and paths. Many of those devices are no longer active — space junk, if you will — and only about 26,000 satellites are being tracked.

Still, various governments and private companies have plans to send 20,000 more objects into orbit within the next five years.

Satellites serve a variety of key uses, from national security to keeping the Internet online. But for the most part space traffic — and the resulting debris — is being tracked imperfectly, inconsistently or not at all.

“There are no sort of laws or rules right now in the space. It’s the Wild West. Whoever can put stuff up, it’s yours,” said Naeem Altaf, an Austin-based

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Astroscale to test space junk cleanup tech with ‘ELSA-d’ launch in 2021

Technology that could help humanity get a handle on the growing space-junk problem will get an orbital test early next year.



a man standing in front of a cake: Astroscale's ELSA-d mission will launch in March 2021 to test space junk-removal tech.


© Provided by Space
Astroscale’s ELSA-d mission will launch in March 2021 to test space junk-removal tech.

The End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch in March 2021 atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, representatives of the Japan-based company Astroscale announced last week.

“We now have the launch in our sights,” ELSA-d project manager Seita Iizuka said in a statement. “The ELSA-d program demonstrates complex and innovative capabilities that will support satellite operators in realizing options for their post-mission disposal strategies and establish Astroscale as a global leader in the on-orbit servicing market.”

Related: 7 wild ways to destroy orbital debris

ELSA-d consists of two spacecraft that will launch together — a 385-lb. (175 kilograms) “servicer” and a 37-lb. (17 kg) “client.” The servicer

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A key to the mystery of fast-evolving genes was found in ‘junk DNA’

A long-standing puzzle in evolution is why new genes — ones that seem to arise out of nowhere — can quickly take over functions essential for an organism’s survival.

A new study in fruit flies may help solve that puzzle. It shows that some new genes quickly become crucial because they regulate a type of DNA called heterochromatin. Once considered “junk DNA,” heterochromatin actually performs many important jobs, including acting like a tightly guarded prison: It locks up “bad actor” genes, preventing them from turning on and doing damage.

Heterochromatin is also one of the fastest-changing bits of DNA in the body, so the genes that regulate it have to adapt quickly just to keep up, evolutionary biologist Harmit Malik at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and his colleagues report online November 10 in eLife.

“The work is a milestone,” said Manyuan Long, an evolutionary biologist

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SpaceX’s Starship could help clean up space junk in orbit, says CEO

  • SpaceX’s Starship rocket system could help clear out junk that has been left in Earth’s orbit, according to Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and CEO. 
  • “It’s not going to be easy, but I do believe Starship offers the possibility of going and doing that,” Shotwell said in an online interview with Time Magazine. 
  • Daniel Oltrogge, director at the Center for Space Standards and Innovation, told Business Insider: “Space debris is increasingly of concern and the collision of two massive space debris objects… pose the greatest environmental risk.”
  • Oltrogge said it’s estimated that there may be around 760,000 objects larger than a centimeter in size in orbit today.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SpaceX’s Starship rocket system could help solve the problem of space junk, according to the company’s president and chief operating officer. 

“There’s rocket bodies littering the space environment, and dead satellites,” said Gwynne Shotwell in an

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