Space Force telescope will hunt foreign spacecraft, asteroids and comets too

The Space surveillance telescope(SST) created by the US Space Force is finally ready to use after years of testing. It is now in use in Australia, offering a fresh vantage point from which to search the sky for extraterrestrial spacecraft, space junk, and celestial objects of interest.

The telescope, which underwent years of testing and saw its first light in 2011, is now prepared to begin operations in the southern hemisphere, where it will join the international Space Surveillance Network for the United States and its allies. The telescope can be used for additional astronomical studies in addition to its primary task of searching for alien spacecraft (or space debris) orbiting the Earth. SST can identify asteroids and comets as well as track dim objects in outer space to assist predict and averting future collisions.

In New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, tested the telescope from 2011 to 2017. The telescope will be relocated to Australia in 2020 after being given to the U.S. Air Force in 2017.

SST is refocusing at a time when space debris is turning into a critical issue for American policy. The number of Starlink satellites being sent into orbit by commercial companies like SpaceX is increasing the likelihood of collisions. Although Starlink argues that their satellites can dodge in case of trouble. A Russian anti-satellite test (ASAT) in November 2021 produced a massive plume of debris that for a while hounded the orbit of the International Space Station, aggravating the satellite swarm problem. A large portion of the swarm is still present and has even approached Starlink satellites that are in their orbit.

In recent months, several government agencies have taken action to remove space debris, including NASA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Vice President Kamala Harris (who serves as chair of the National Space Council). Harris promised that the United States would not conduct its own harmful ASAT testing, and the FCC recently amended its debris restrictions.

Space Force claims that SST can see as high as a geosynchronous orbit. A high Earth orbit called a geosynchronous orbit enables satellites to follow the rotation of the planet. This point, which is 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above Earth’s equator, is a useful place to keep an eye on the weather, communications, and surveillance.

Article link –