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Falling Satellite Debris is Just the Beginning, Experts Say

A report by the National Research Council (NRC) released at the beginning of September warns that space junk is a growing threat.

The earth’s orbit is full of space debris, according to the NASA Orbital Debris Program and a new NRC report. Pieces of satellites that fall from the sky are not the only potential risk. According to the report, collisions of space junk might disrupt such seemingly unrelated areas of our lives as financial transactions, air traffic control and weather reports.

Scientists say there is a probable scenario in which the debris floating around the Earth’s orbit will be colliding with each other more often causing debris cascades, reported the International Business Times.

“The current space environment is growing increasingly hazardous to spacecraft and astronauts," Donald Kessler of NRC and the retired head of NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office told IBT. “NASA needs to determine the best path forward for tackling the multifaceted problems caused by meteoroids and orbital debris that put human and robotic space operations at risk.”

Since the space age began 54 years ago, humans have littered the Earth's atmosphere with leftovers of space shuttles, satellites and with other debris, according CBC, a Canadian news agency.

NASA says on its website that it has already adopted guidelines and assessment procedures to reduce the number of non-operational spacecraft and other debris orbiting the Earth, due to the increasing number of objects floating in space.

According to the NRC report, the United States spends approximately $4 million a year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs).

Some scientists are reportedly supporting an idea of creating a "graveyard orbit" where space junk could be deposited. Another possible technique of cleaning up the outer space involves complex technology like special nets, magnets and giant umbrellas, reported CBC.

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