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The moon is illuminated as the sun rises over the Somerset countryside on November 6, 2012 in Glastonbury, England.
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.