April 18th, 2013
10:14 PM ET

Space harpoon plan to nail orbital garbage

By Dave Gilbert, CNN

What do you do with 6,000 tons of space junk traveling at thousands of miles an hour? Harpoon it of course.

It might sound like a scenario straight off the pages of a science fiction novel but it is a suggested solution to an increasing and potentially costly problem in space - that of debris littering low earth orbit.

The harpoon plan is one of a range of options being discussed by scientists at a forum in Germany next week, and aimed at finding a way of tackling space debris that threatens commercial operations.

Engineer Jaime Reed, who is leading the harpoon project for the space technology company Astrium, explains that if a rogue satellite hits another, not only does it ruin the mission but it creates more debris and propagates the problem. This run-away scenario is often called the Kessler Syndrome, named after NASA's Don Kessler who first highlighted the risk.

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Filed under: In Space
Where life might live beyond Earth
April 18th, 2013
04:14 PM ET

3 new planets could host life

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

In the midst of chaos here on Earth, scientists are finding hope for life on other planets.

Scientists announced Thursday the discovery of three planets that are some of the best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our own solar system - and they're very far away.

NASA's Kepler satellite, which is keeping an eye on more than 150,000 stars in hopes of identifying Earth-like planets, found the trio.

Two of the planets - Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f - are described in a study released Thursday in the journal, Science. They are part of a five-planet system in which the candidates for life are the farthest from the host star.

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Filed under: In Space • Kepler

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