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China Establishes First Space Trash Observation Center

Illustration of man-made space debris in orbit around Earth.
Beijing (XNA) Mar 14, 2005
At the beginning of March, China established its first space trash observation center, the Space Target and Debris Observation and Research Center, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Nanjing branch), at the Purple Mountain Observatory.

The center will set up an early-warning system for China's aerospace field.

Space debris, commonly known as space trash, refers to the debris left by humans in space, ranging from deserted satellites and metal components of various spacecrafts, to residues and powder produced by ignition of solid fuel engines.

It is estimated that currently there are over 110,000 pieces of untracked space debris with diameters more than 1 cm in space, and over 40 million pieces with diameters of more than 1 mm. The debris weighs about 3000 tons and is increasing at a rate of 2% to 5% every year.

Scientists at PMO pointed out that at this rate, nothing would be able to enter space orbit by 2300. The observation and research of space debris aims to protect manned spaceships and large, expensive satellites.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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