Aliens, Asteroids and Space Junk
While Hollywood films often address concerns about alien attacks, the recent Chelyabinsk asteroid
injuring over 1,000 people in central Russia is a testament to the other dangers lurking in space.NEOs
(near-earth object) striking Earth need to be at least about 100 feet to cause serious destruction to a populated area. Russia’s recent asteroid
, for example, is estimated to have been about only 55 feet across.
And experts estimate there are more than one million of these 100-foot plus asteroids
NASA announced this June that more than 10,000 asteroids
and comets are near Earth (NEO
) meaning they will approach uncomfortably close within 28 million miles.About 1,000 of these are the right size, about half a mile, to potentially unleash global catastrophic devastation to the planet upon impact.The Space Surveillance System has been fundamental to other aspects of defense particularly in protecting U.S. satellites.
Our satellites are not just essential to the military for capabilities like GPS, surveillance and communication, but to civilians for weather tracking and advanced natural disaster warning through to watching your favorites sports delivered to your television through satellites.
Knocking out GPS would not just inconvenience the lost driver and the military, critical national infrastructures like power grids, banking operations and transportation systems also rely on uninterrupted GPS access.
For more than 5o years since the first man-made satellite launch, Earth's orbit has become increasingly cluttered with space junk. There is an estimated whopping half million pieces up there.
may need to be about 50 feet to cause damage to Earth, up in space debris as tiny as a centimeter pose a threat to our satellites to the extent it could even destroy one.So the Space Surveillance System also tracks and detects the space junk that may threaten American commercial and military satellites as well as the International Space Station and manned space flight missions.