International Space Station to Maneuver to Avoid Satellite Junk

The International Space Station will perform a brief maneuver on Wednesday to dodge a fragment of a defunct Chinese satellite, Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

The station crewed by seven astronauts will climb 1,240 meters higher to avoid a close encounter with the fragment and will settle in an orbit 470.7 km (292 miles) above the Earth, Roscosmos said. It did not say how large the debris was.

“In order to dodge the ‘space junk’, (mission control) specialists … have calculated how to correct the orbit of the International Space Station,” the agency’s statement said.

The station will rely on the engines of the Progress space truck that is docked to it to carry out the move.

An ever-swelling amount of space debris is threatening satellites hovering around Earth, making insurers leery of offering coverage to the devices that transmit texts, maps, videos and scientific data.

The document reaffirms the goals set in Paris in 2015 of limiting warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, with a more stringent target of trying to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) preferred because that would keep damage from climate change “much lower.”

Highlighting the challenge of meeting those goals, the document “expresses alarm and concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 C (2 F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”

Small island nations, which are particularly vulnerable to warming, worry that too little is being done to stop warming at the 1.5-degree goal — and that allowing temperature increases up to 2 degrees would be catastrophic for their countries.

“For Pacific (small island states), climate change is the greatest, single greatest threat to our livelihood, security and wellbeing. We do not need more scientific evidence nor targets without plans to reach them or talking shops,” Marshall Islands Health and Human Services minister told fellow negotiators Wednesday. “The 1.5 limit is not negotiable.”

Separate draft proposals were also released on other issues being debated at the talks, including rules for international carbon markets and the frequency by which countries have to report on their efforts.

The draft calls on nations that don’t have national goals that would fit with the 1.5- or 2-degree limits to come back with stronger targets next year. Depending on how the language is interpreted, the provision could apply to most countries. Analysts at the World Resources Institute counted that element as a win for vulnerable countries.

“This is crucial language,” WRI International Climate Initiative Director David Waskow said Wednesday. “Countries really are expected and are on the hook to do something in that timeframe to adjust.”

Greenpeace’s Morgan said it would have been even better to set a requirement for new goals every year.

In a nod to one of the big issues for poorer countries, the draft vaguely “urges” developed nations to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage,” a phrase that some rich nations don’t like. But there are no concrete financial commitments.

“This is often the most difficult moment,” Achim Steiner, the head of the U.N. Development Program and former chief of the U.N.’s environment office, said of the state of the two-week talks.

“The first week is over, you suddenly recognize that there are a number of fundamentally different issues that are not easily resolvable. The clock is ticking,” he told The Associated Press.


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