Aside from a couple particularly nasty collisions, dead satellites comprise the bulk of our planet's space junk problem — as they die, get fried by radiation and become zombies, or are decommissioned, there's nowhere for them to go.
Space is getting pretty crowded -- there are a couple thousand satellites orbiting Earth, not to mention destroyed-satellite debris and at least one zombiesat. Adding new ones is increasingly difficult, because there's only so much room for satellites to sit in specific, geostationary orbits.
A theory first proposed by a physicist/science fiction writer may provide a solution. In a new study, engineers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland claim to have worked out a system of displaced orbits, first proposed in 1984 by American physicist Robert Forward.
Geostationary orbits allow satellites to focus on a single part of Earth, and that makes them ideal for
a large variety of applications. My question is: Why don´t all satellites use them?
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Like many of the best things in life, geostationary orbits come at a huge price. Maintaining a fixed position in relation to Earth, which is extremely helpful for communication, surveillance and other key functions, is a lot more complicated than finding a good parking space and staying put.