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The Kessler Effect is the increasing frequency of space junk colliding with our working satellites causing the creation of more space junk which collides with more satellites with increasing frequency. What we have is the creation of more space junk than is removed naturally by atmospheric friction. The Kessler Effect is named after Donald Kessler a NASA astrophysicist who began to study the possible collision cascades that might occur and assigning probabilities to them.

Please see the article

http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2013/nov/15/space-junk-apocalypse-gravity

in the Manchester Guardian.

No, we are not going to see a real live version of the current motion picture Gravity in which a cascade of collisions takes out the Hubble Space Telescope, ISS, the Chinese Space Station and an American space shuttle within a two hour interval.

Most of the satellites effect will be the low orbit satellites which are used for observing weather, tracking oil spills in the ocean and surveying soil conditions on land. Fortunately the synchronous satellite are at very high orbit (22,000 miles) and will not be affected. But the lower orbits will be impacted. That is where our GPS satellites live. The loss of GPS could have some very serious consequences since most navigation done at this time depends on GPS, GLONASS (the Russian counterpart to GPS) and other proposed location satellite being planned by Japan and China.

The only way to prevent a growing cascade at low orbit is to actively take junk out of orbit and move it so far down that the atmosphere will burn the stuff up. This is going to cost a lot of money but losing our low orbit com-sats and survey sats is also a cost.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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If I understand the mechanics, it takes as much delta-V to bring an object into low orbit as to move it into a higher one. Rather than burning up valuable processed metals and semiconductors, why not just move them up to disperse them. They can be gathered later when it is economically feasible.

Really, I guess the bottom line is that it is now cheaper to risk the loss of GPS than to fix the problem -- or the problem would be fixed by those who would bear the cost of the loss.

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If I understand the mechanics, it takes as much delta-V to bring an object into low orbit as to move it into a higher one. Rather than burning up valuable processed metals and semiconductors, why not just move them up to disperse them. They can be gathered later when it is economically feasible.

Really, I guess the bottom line is that it is now cheaper to risk the loss of GPS than to fix the problem -- or the problem would be fixed by those who would bear the cost of the loss.

The Junk in Orbit is as likely to be picked up as all the spent Oxygen tanks on the slopes of Everest and K-2.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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