Look! Up in the sky!
That’s what the United States military wants amateur astronomers to do in the quest for space junk – the debris, like defunct satellites or rocket bodies – we humans have sent into outer space.
UC Berkeley research astronomer David Deboer said you can scan the dark sky on any given night for orbital debris.
“There are only a limited number that are available with the naked eye as you get further out and further out of orbit, but with a good telescope those should be observable," he said. "You’d need some training and software and experience, I think, to really do some meaningful stuff.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency already tracks debris larger than a softball, but there are still thousands of pieces in orbit about the size of a marble. That may sound small, but a collision with operating satellites could cause damage.
Officials won't start selecting participants for the SpaceView program until late next year, but for now, they just want anyone with a telescope who's interested to answer a few basic questions so they can develop their program.
DARPA wants to know from where you observe, how many nights a month, what kind of telescope you use, and if you have internet access from your telescope site. You can also indicate if you'd be interested in new equipment - like mounts and cameras - or monetary compensation for your time.