AN INNOVATIVE company which specialises in space surveillance has teamed up with an observatory to tackle the growing problem of space debris.

Alnwick-based Northern Space and Security Limited (NORSS), a space situational awareness and space surveillance and tracking company, has taken advantage of the dark skies around Kielder Observatory, to site its LEO (Low Earth Orbit) Optical Camera Installation (LOCI).

Ralph Dinsley, executive director of NORSS, said: "Space debris is a growing problem and one that everyone involved in space operations from satellite regulators to those who operate them need to address. In the past, space debris has been the primary cause of possible collisions in orbit."

Four cameras will track active satellites and space debris from Kielder Observatory in Kielder Water and Forest Park. Three of these will capture images of satellites in Low Earth Orbit below 2,000km in altitude. The other will track objects in deep space, to approximately 36,000km away.

Data collected will be used to track and monitor the behaviour of objects and to assess the risk of collisions in space.

Catherine Johns, CEO of Kielder Observatory, said: "Having this technology at Kielder is an educational asset for us as we really want people to think about the space environment in the same way that we talk about the effects of light pollution."

She emphasised that space debris is a huge problem, and we need to be aware of how much damage space debris could cause.