Science: The Pollution of Space

When the two new satellites were launched last May, NASA hailed them as the latest example of space-age technology benefiting life on earth. One satellite, dubbed AT56 (for Applications Technology Satellite), is relaying educational TV programs to remote regions; the other, SM51 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite), is a new breed of weather satellite equipped with infrared cameras that can shoot remarkably detailed cloud pictures even at night.

Both satellites are performing splendidly, but both are producing unexpected and undesired side effects: they are creating so much electronic interference that radio astronomers are sometimes virtually...

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