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Artificial intelligence is learning how to dodge space junk in orbit


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An AI-driven space debris-dodging system could soon replace expert teams dealing with growing numbers of orbital collision threats in the increasingly cluttered near-Earth environment.

Every two weeks, spacecraft controllers at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, have to conduct avoidance maneuvers with one of their 20 low Earth orbit satellites, Holger Krag, the Head of Space Safety at the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a  news conference organized by ESA during the 8th European Space Debris Conference held virtually from Darmstadt Germany, April 20 to 23. There are at least five times as many close encounters that the agency's teams monitor and carefully evaluate, each requesting a multi-disciplinary team to be on call 24/7 for several days. 


"Every collision avoidance maneuver is a nuisance," Krag said. "Not only because of fuel consumption but also because of the preparation that goes into it. We have to book ground-station passes, which costs money, sometimes we even have to switch off the acquisition of scientific data. We have to have an expert team available round the clock."

The frequency of such situations is only expected to increase. Not all collision alerts are caused by pieces of space debris. Companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are building mega-constellations of thousands of satellites, lofting more spacecraft into orbit in a single month than used to be launched within an entire year only a few years ago. This increased space traffic is causing concerns among space debris experts. In fact, ESA said that nearly half of the conjunction alerts currently monitored by the agency's operators involve small satellites and constellation spacecraft. 

Artificial intelligence is learning how to dodge space junk in orbit (msn.com)

Right now NASA monitors space junk and warns other nations when their satellites are at risk of a collision so they can be maneuvered away. They even warn China, which performed a missile test and shot down one of their own satellites years ago which created some of the space debris we deal now. As low earth orbit becomes more and more cluttered, better techniques to deal with the situation will be really important. 

The risk of space debris causing a collision that has the potential to create more space debris that cause more and more collisions is called Kessler syndrome - Wikipedia


If a major Kessler event were to happen it could basically wipe out everything we have in low earth orbit. Eventually most of the debris would fall back to earth but it would be years before we could rebuild.  

This is a good video on the subject: 


Edited by UltraMega
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