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The LDEF was brought back to Earth in the Shuttle and scientists discovered that its surfaces were covered with impact craters from micro-meteoroids.
Micro-meteoroid impact crater on the LDEF satellite (NASA). That was back in the 1980s but if the mission were to be repeated now it would almost certainly suffer many more collisions from the bits of space debris that we have put up there. There are thousands upon thousands of pieces of rocket and spacecraft circling Earth and it is becoming a big problem for satellite operators.

 

 

That was back in the 1980s but if the mission were to be repeated now it would almost certainly suffer many more collisions from the bits of space debris that we have put up there. There are thousands upon thousands of pieces of rocket and spacecraft circling Earth and it is becoming a big problem for satellite operators.

Computer representation of just some of the debris pieces orbiting Earth (NASA)
At a meeting last week Air Commodore Stuart Evans RAF, Head of Joint Doctrine, Air and Space, DCDC, pointed out that 'all nine sectors of the UK's critical national infrastructure (communications, emergency services, government and public services, finance, energy, food, health, transport and water) all rely, to a greater or lesser degree, on space.
What to do about the debris problem, then? There is no simple answer at the moment and all the space players can do is ensure as little new debris is created as possible.
Prospero is still in orbit and next October scientists hope to re-contact it for its 40th anniversary. They won't be able to examine those experimental surfaces but if they could I wonder what state they would be in now!
http://sciencemuseumdiscovery.com/blogs/collections/category/space-exploration/

 

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