The U.S. Military Will Maintain A Giant Telescope In Australia To Keep An Eye On?
Answer: Space Junk
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense will complete the process of installing a large telescope in a remote region of Australia. This telescope, dubbed the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) and currently housed in New Mexico for testing and evaluation, is part of the Air Force’s Space Surveillance Network and designed to help the U.S. Air Force track the hundreds of thousands of bits of space debris and junk stuck in geosynchronous orbit roughly 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. The tracking system is intended to help keep both military and civilian satellites out of harm’s way and operational.
While we weren’t privy to the specifics of the conversation between the Department of Defense and the Australian government, we’d like to imagine the sales pitch went something like “Hey guys, remember when we crashed SkyLab into Australia back in the 1970s? If you let us build this super cool space-tracking telescope in the ol’ Outback, we promise there won’t be any more satellite shenanigans.”
Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense/DARPA.