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如果太空垃圾和气候变化成为同一个问题?

What if Space Junk and Climate Change Become the Same Problem?

将太空垃圾问题与气候变化相提并论是很容易的。人类活动在地球轨道上留下了太多的死亡卫星和被丢弃的机器碎片。如果不加控制,太空垃圾可能给后代带来重大问题——使进入太空越来越困难,在最坏的情况下,这将成为不可能。

It’s easy to compare the space junk problem to climate change. Human activities leave too many dead satellites and fragments of machinery discarded in Earth orbit. If left unchecked, space junk could pose significant problems for future generations — rendering access to space increasingly difficult, or at worst, impossible.

然而,这两者可能会被联系起来。我们星球的大气层自然地将轨道上的碎片往下拉,并在较厚的低层大气中焚烧,但不断增加的二氧化碳水平正在降低高层大气的密度,因此可能会削弱这种效果。上个月在欧洲空间碎片会议上提出的一项研究说,这个问题被低估了,在最坏的情况下,轨道上的空间垃圾数量到2100年可能增加50倍。

Yet the two may come to be linked. Our planet’s atmosphere naturally pulls orbiting debris downward and incinerates it in the thicker lower atmosphere, but increasing carbon dioxide levels are lowering the density of the upper atmosphere, which may diminish this effect. A study presented last month at the European Conference on Space Debris says that the problem has been underestimated, and that the amount of space junk in orbit could, in a worst-case scenario, increase 50 times by 2100.

英国南安普敦大学的空间碎片专家、该论文的共同作者休-刘易斯说:”这些数字让我们大吃一惊。”该论文将在未来几个月提交给同行评审。”确实有理由感到震惊”。

“The numbers took us by surprise,” said Hugh Lewis, a space debris expert from the University of Southampton in England and a co-author on the paper, which will be submitted for peer review in the coming months. “There is genuine cause for alarm.”

Read more at The New York Times

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