Above our heads, 21,000 pieces of man-made junk uncomfortably share the orbit around our planet with satellites, space craft and space platforms. These chunks of orbital debris threaten to collide with all that equipment, potentially bringing down communications, scientific, and military satellites. But if the Air Force has its way, its Space Fence system will track the thousands of pieces of debris and give data to scientists to help them avoid collisions.
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This past November, the Air Force's Electronic Systems Center put out a call for proposals for developing a Space Fence that will use up to three powerful S-band radars to keep track of debris in the southern hemisphere as small as one inch in diameter. These new sensors will compliment the current United States Space Surveillance Network, whose sensors can follow objects down to ten centimeters in diameter.