Amateur astronomers help DARPA track space junk

An infrared view of the Eagle nebula from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. (Photo: NASA)
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Trish Anderton

The government is recruiting stargazing hobbyists to help identify dangerous space debris.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to connect volunteers around the country with high-quality telescopes, either by renting remote access for them on existing scopes, or by upgrading the volunteer's personal equipment. The recruits would help the government keep an eye on "more than 500,000 pieces of hazardous space debris" that threaten to smack into satellites.

“There is an untold amount of potential in the amateur astronomy community that we hope to use to broaden our situational awareness in space,” said DARPA program manager Lt Col Travis Blake in a statement.

Do you have what it takes to save satellites from menacing bits of space garbage? Sign up for the SpaceView Network!