Week 0: Introduction to Space Junk

Mar 31, 2021

Hello everyone! My name is Liam Duffy, and I have been attending Basis Independent Brooklyn for the last 4 years starting as a freshman in high school. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a burning curiosity about space and what we are actually looking at when we look up in the sky at night. During these past few years at Basis, I have taken physics classes every single year which allowed me to investigate and understand the world around me. In the next 10 weeks with this senior project, I plan to use my knowledge in physics and study Space Junk in Earth’s lower orbit.

My research question is as follows: What are the most effective ways to clear the Earth’s Orbit of debris (aka space junk) and how will this debris affect space travel in the near future?

Space Junk is a problem that can and will affect many people if we don’t do anything about it soon. With over 1 million pieces of space junk flying by at speeds of over 17,500 mph, it is only a matter of time before debris hits a weather or internet satellite, or even worse puts the lives of those who live on satellites at risk. This is not an easy problem to fix which is why I am starting with a senior project.

Below is an example of some of the damages that Space Junk can cause, the piece of metal is only 18 cm thick and the ball is only 1.2 cm in diameter.

Throughout these 10 weeks, I will collect data on space junk from varying places such as NASA and SpaceX. With this data, I will create accurate easy-to-read models that describe how big of an issue space junk is and determine what the best solution(s) is to overcome this problem in the future. Not only do I want to make an attempt at solving a problem, but I also want to spread awareness of this problem which seems to have a lack of interest from the general public and big corporations.

Link to my Proposal: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BzAgynCIGBIG8rM-oq3okhXphd9qX4PEYm2lYvIvKmE/edit

Image Cited: Hypervelocity_Impact [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.esa.int/Safety_Security/Space_Debris/Hypervelocity_impacts_and_protecting_spacecraft

Thank you!

-Liam Duffy

6 Replies to “Week 0: Introduction to Space Junk”

  1. Elizabeth C. says:

    Your project sounds great! I’m excited to see the solutions that you develop.

  2. Matthew S. says:

    This is something that should definitely be more important to the public and companies and i think its an awesome topic for you to research. I think that humans pay more attention to what’s in front of them and because space junk hasn’t affected many people yet, and is in space, they haven’t considered it as much of a problem as it really is. I look forward to reading your findings!

  3. Jacob H. says:

    Liam this is such a cool project, and definitely a very important issue. The picture you provided really shows just how much momentum that tiny piece of space junk had when it impacted the metal. I’m really excited to see the models you create and the potential solutions you find!

  4. Josh S. says:

    Super interesting Liam! I think as humans venture off the planet more frequently, and as we start to have commercial space travel, this issue will become even more prevalent.

  5. Brett G. says:

    Liam, this is such a fascinating choice of topic. It is a really important issue to research. I also think that many are not aware of this issue so it will be great to bring awareness to it. I hope all your research goes as planned and you are able to come up with strong solutions!

  6. Asha W. says:

    I’m glad you’re bringing awareness to this topic as not many people, including myself, value the importance of space because of its distance. I’m really excited to see what research you find, good luck!

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