The island of Cyprus is partially visible among the clouds with the European Space Agency's Columbus module in the foreground in this image provided by NASA and taken April 8, 2010. Credit: Reuters/NASA/Handout
(Reuters) – A new EU-wide system to track satellites could help reduce collisions with orbiting space debris, crashes that cost operators millions and could knock out mobile and GPS networks.
The system, proposed by the European Union's executive, aims to help monitor dangerous space junk and alert satellite operators to collision risks ahead of time, the European Commission said on Friday.
The EU could get a "big bang" for its buck, since last-minute course changes to satellites are estimated to cost operators 140 million euros ($183.03 million) each year, with that cost expected to rise over 10 years.
When satellites aren't able to move out of the way in time, impacts can damage delicate electronics and reduce their operational life. They can also disrupt mobile phone calls, cause flight cancellations and interfere with weather forecasts.
The proposal would help EU member states combine their space surveillance systems and encourage them to invest in new technology.
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