Scientists ponder space harpoon as a method of taking out floating junk

Scientists have come up with a novel way to clear up space junk - the vast amount of debris orbiting the earth that varies in size from tiny washers to entire space stations.

The solution is a harpoon, which would embed itself into pieces of floating junk and drag them out of orbit, where they would burn up, ITV News reports.

European company Airbus Defence and Space is looking into the technology, testing it at their Stevenage facilities.

There are more than 500,000 pieces of space junk floating in our orbit, each one travelling at up to 17,500km/h.

The junk is becoming a major problem and could crash into working satellites, knocking out mobile phone signals and other communications. 

"The problem with space junk is that it can damage functioning satellites, then we might lose the ability to use our phones, the weather forecast could be disrupted," Science Museum space curator Doug Millard told ITV News.

"Communication, navigation, everything we take for granted with our mobile devices could be affected."


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