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The University of Southampton

Space debris alert warns of ‘uncontrollable grow’ in collisions

Published: 10 December 2019
Space debris
Professor Lewis used the University of Southampton's state-of-the-art space debris model

A new study from the University of Southampton has warned that the latest countermeasures to manage space debris could actually accelerate the frequency of catastrophic collisions.

Astronautics expert Professor Hugh Lewis, from the School of Engineering, used a state-of-the-art space debris model to look at how the trackable space debris population might respond if there was widespread adoption of mitigation guidelines while space activity carried on unchanged.

The research, which forecast the impact over the next 1,000 years, showed that even a small number of launched satellites would trigger a collision cascade - a series of collisions occurring at an accelerating rate that increases the space debris population exponentially.

Professor Lewis will report the findings at next week’s International Orbital Debris Conference in Sugar Land, USA.

Read the full story on the main news page.

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