Science and Nature

Space is getting filled by junk and debris, posing a grave risk

Space is getting filled by junk and debris, posing a grave risk thumbnail

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

October 16, 2020 8:37:44 pm

Artist’s impression of the space junk cloud around Earth based on actual density data. Debris objects shown at an exaggerated size. (ESA)

Earth’s orbit is gradually getting littered by the accumulation of space debris due to dead and defunct satellites and various other objects of spacecrafts and rockets according to a new research. Human activities related to Space exploration has now produced so much wreckage and debris in the vicinity of Erath’s orbit that it has seemingly outnumbered the other space objects.

Over the period of time since the first space exploration programme back in 1957, more and more vague and useless objects have surrounded the Earth’s orbit, called near Earth Space. Moreover, the debris lying in the space has increased the risk of its collision by manifold as they may shatter and crash into each other further producing much more waste and debris. Pertaining to the grave danger it possesses; European Science Agency has warned that mitigation steps to tackle such problem might not be enough.

As per a Science Alert report, ESA statistics suggests that there are around 130 million pieces of anthropogenic space debris whose size is even smaller than a millimetre. The consequences of these debris have been hazardous that in last few years. Two large satellites were about to collide with each other, due to which the International Space Station had to perform emergency manoeuvres. Apart from this, the ISS had to perform these manoeuvres two different times to avoid any damage due to collision.

In hindsight, it has been found that the biggest contributor of the debris is the explosion of fuel and batteries which are attached to spacecrafts and rockets. Such sort of problems related to Space Junk arose in the 1960s itself but was not attentively heeded upon back then. It is only now, that Spacefaring Nations have become aware about the mess in the space and are compelled to follow mitigation guidelines.

Furthermore, certain mitigation steps that have been developed by researchers are that of using Reusable Rocket technology during the initial phases itself and also the building of spacecrafts that can withstand the harsh environment of space without getting disintegrated into pieces. However, scientists have noted that this fragmentation is on the rise where 12 such incidences have taken place every year for the last two decades.

Subsequently, ESA has also commissioned a project to attempt to collect space debris which has been planned to be launched in 2025. In addition, technology related to automated collision avoidance manoeuvres is also being developed to make the tracking and controlling of every disintegrated object and equipment of the satellite human-free.

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