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Telescope to track space junk

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Telescope to track space junk using radio station

Inaugural results reveal enormous potential of SKA precursor

A combination of pop songs, talkback radio and cutting-edge science has enabled Australian astronomers to identify a way to prevent catastrophic, multi-billion dollar space junk collisions, a new study has revealed.

The inaugural research project spearheaded by Curtin University in Western Australia, will use the newly operational Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), one of three precursor telescopes for the $2billion Square Kilometre Array project, to detect radio waves reflecting off thousands of objects orbiting the earth.

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Telescope to track space junk using youth radio station

Built to allow astronomers to look back in cosmic time, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), based in outback Western Australia, will also look into the future and help avert catastrophic collisions between satellites and space junk orbiting the Earth.

A research team using the MWA has predicted that FM radio waves transmitted from commercial radio stations can be reflected off space junk and detected by the MWA, allowing the junk to be monitored and tracked.

Publication: Tingay et al. in The Astronomical Journal 146, 103 "On the detection and tracking of space debris using the Murchison Widefield Array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility"

More information:

http://www.caastro.org/news/2013-spacejunk

https://www.facebook.com/Murchison.Widefield.Array

http://astronomy.curtin.edu.au/people/stingay.cfm

Video production: W. Ebeling, CAASTRO Education & Outreach

Image and video credit: NASA, ESA, AGI, E. Lenc, J. Goldsmith / Celestial Visions, B. McKinley, Swinburne Astronomy Productions

Source: CAASTRO - YouTube Channel

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