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Avoiding collisions with space debris hundreds of miles above Earth

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International Space Station 2013
International Space Station 2013

There’s a high-tech game of Frogger happening 250 miles above our heads, as the International Space Station (ISS) maneuvers around the multitude of orbiting debris left over from destroyed satellites. Ars Technica reports that here on Earth, a group of engineers across numerous different teams help keep the station safe. Drifting fragments, some as small at 10 centimeters, are constantly monitored and mapped against the space station’s trajectory. The countdown begins when the ISS control room receives a warning of nearby debris from the United States Strategic Command, generally three days prior to the chunk’s closest approach. A combination of gyroscopes and thrusters move the International Space Station out of harm's way, avoiding collisions without disrupting the space station crew’s normal routine.