Junk is around us everywhere. And do you know about the junk, and trash that’s building up in space?
Do you think that’s not a problem to us because the trash is up in space?
Well, watch this video to find out what issues the space debris can create and how it can affect us!
Since the launch of the World’s first satellite, Sputnik 1 on Oct 4, 1957 there have been thousands of launches. As we speak, around 5000 launches to be precise.
On the one hand, we should definitely be proud because we have learned and achieved so much with these satellites and space stations.
On the other hand, we are also contributing on a big scale to space trash.
Let me give you more details about space junk!
As of 2019, there are about 14000 pieces of debris in space that are larger than 10 cm in size. And there are about 200000 pieces that are between 1cm and 10cm floating around.
There could be millions of pieces that are less than 1cm in size!
You want to hear the worst? This number will only go up by multitudes.
Not just because we will be launching new stuff into space, but also because one collision between any two debris, or between a debris and a satellite or any other body, will create thousand more pieces to add to this.
These numbers are tracked by the United Nations Space Surveillance Network.
If the altitude of the debris is below 600 KM then it will take several years for it to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and fall back.
If the altitude is above 1000KM, then the debris will orbit around for centuries!
Right, so why should we be worried about this space debris?
Most of the debris is situated within 1250 KMs altitude. And that’s where most satellites orbit too.
The million pieces of space debris that’s floating up there pose serious dangers to anything that goes up there, or anything that’s already up there.
Any small piece of debris, like a paint flake or a tiny piece of a metal can cause severe damage to a manned or unmanned spacecraft, or a satellite or the International Space Station itself.
A debris of the size of 10 cm can potentially destroy a satellite or a spacecraft into pieces, according to the European Space Agency.
It is because, those debris are orbiting at the speed of 22,300 mph – which is faster than a shot bullet.
Dents, dings, holes and chip-offs have been created due to collision by debris on functioning and non-functioning satellites.
Serious collisions have happened so far. In 1996 – a piece of debris and an operational satellite collided; though the satellite was damaged, it continued to function.
In 2009, an operational communication satellite was destroyed when an inactive communication satellite collided with it.
In 2007 a weather satellite was destroyed when testing an anti-satellite system. This collision created more than 3000 debris contributing to more than 20% of all of the space debris.
Collisions between satellites or debris will only create more debris due to the chain reaction.
So any satellite or a spacecraft we launch is in danger of collision and fatal damage.
Is there a solution to this space debris problem?
Japan’s Space agency JAXA and OneWeb, a global communications company have adopted a policy of deploying satellites into orbits close enough so they’ll enter Earth’s a year after they become inoperative.
Numerous other technologies are in paper but not yet in practice. One such is to send remotely controlled spacecraft that would force debris to de-orbit and enter Earth’s atmosphere.
There are also proposed giant magnets, nets, harpoons and the like that would catch the debris and pull them down into Earth’s atmosphere.
But how successful or optimal these proposals will be is still a question!
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