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US, Japan agree to cooperate on monitoring of space debris

TOKYO (KYODO): Japan and the United States have agreed to share data and strengthen the monitoring of space debris to avoid collisions with satellites and other objects in space, sources said on Wednesday.

The agreement comes as the amount of space debris, such as retired satellites and their fragments, is believed to have totalled more than 500,000 items and they pose dangers to working satellites and the safety of astronauts at the International Space Station, they said.

The debris is traveling around Earth at speed of up to 8 kilometers per second, and could hit satellites used for communications, broadcasting and the global positioning system at any time.

The two countries also agreed to work to secure safety on the ground by quickly detecting the landing points of retired satellites that are set to fall on Earth, they said.

Japan is considering using a missile radar system owned by the Self-Defense Forces for these efforts, while offering data on space debris collected by radar and telescope to the United States, they said.

Currently the US has a leading role in addressing the issue of space debris, with its military constantly following the movements of debris which are 10 centimeters in diameter or larger, and providing the data to other countries around the world, they said.

But as the United States cannot precisely detect the location and movements of smaller debris, Japan will step up efforts to develop new technology to detect such small space debris, they said.

Japan and the United States will also cooperate in leading international negotiations to set rules aiming at reducing space debris, according to the sources.


Space debris  Japan  US  ISS  

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