WASHINGTON – Japan has agreed to provide the U.S. with information related to space debris under a deal aimed at bolstering security cooperation, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The U.S. government has been providing space debris information to Japan since the two countries reached an accord last year. The latest agreement will enable two-way transfer of data for the first time, the sources said Tuesday.
The Japanese and U.S. governments exchanged a note in Washington on Tuesday about sharing information on the debris, while deciding to hold a second round of talks on bilateral cooperation in the space sector on Friday in the U.S. capital, according to the sources.
A growing amount of space debris is hurtling around Earth at lighting speeds, heightening the risk of collision with satellites currently in use and threatening to become an obstacle to other activities in space. The number of such objects is believed to have drastically increased in 2007, when China destroyed an aging weather forecasting satellite.
Under the agreement, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will give U.S. Strategic Command information about objects such as old satellite and rocket components that are circling the Earth at velocities of up to 8 km per second.
JAXA monitors space debris and analyzes relevant data using an optical telescope and radar in Okinawa Prefecture. JAXA will provide information about space debris that the U.S. agency, which operates military satellites and nuclear arms, cannot see because of blind spots in its radar network, the sources said.