Carl Sagan’s Guide to fake news: The story behind the RemoveDebris program “Space Hoover”

Space Debris is a real issue that was first flagged up by NASA’s 1979 Orbital Debris program. You can find many references across the ESA, NASA as well as Surrey university and mainstream news outlets. The “RemoveDebris” program is reported on both the NASA and Surrey University websites, and involves a wide number of technology partners including airbus. In order for this to be a conspiracy, an awful lot of people in different organizations would have to co-operating on a “false” story.  This provides “independent confirmation of the factsand provides a relatively simple explanation (in line with Occam´s razor). The story provides a few facts and figures that can be checked elsewhere. The article also quotes the sources and names the researchers and establishments involved – so can be fact checked relatively easily.

The term “Space hoover” is a bit of poetic licence on behalf of article’s author – space is a vacuum so the principles of a normal vacuum cleaner wouldn’t work. It is a notable that none of the academics quoted in the article use this language – talking about a “harpoon” or a “net” – but not a hoover.

If you want to find out more about this story or the baloney detection toolkit then please come to Carl Sagan´s guide to Fake News.

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