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DARPA hands space junk spotting scope to US Air Force

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Timothy Guardado
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The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency's DARPA Space Surveillance Telescope SST is on track for its transfer to a site in Australia later this year.

Late last week, DARPA handed the SST over to the US Air Force, which will operate the space junk and comet hunter from a site in Western Australia in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force RAAF .

Its next destination is the Harold E Holt naval communication station near Exmouth, WA.

The SST is a 3.5 metre telescope able to survey the entire geostationary belt within its field of view multiple times each night, spotting the very faint light coming from space debris 36,000 km away.

With DARPA-developed charge-coupled devices and a steeply curved primary mirror that gives it a large field of view, the SST is an order of magnitude more sensitive than the existing Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Telescope GEODSS , DARPA's SST program manager Lindsay Millard told Space News.

She said the geostationary orbit contains volume of tens of thousands of oceans.

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