What is Space Debris?
Since the massive development in the field of space technology in the late 1950s, we have launched several thousands of different category satellites (low earth orbital, medium earth orbital, and high earth orbital satellites) in the earth orbit. Many of those are still working and some are not, the number of not working satellites in earth orbit is in thousands, they are still orbiting the earth which has to increase the risk of collision with working satellites as well as for future launch satellites.
As per the several NASA studies which reflect that there are more than 27,000 orbital debris or satellite junk material are orbiting the earth. The department of defense track the space junk with the help of a space surveillance network sensor. Day by day the increasing numbers of space mission launches by several countries make a potential danger to all upcoming space programs.
Simply, we may understand the term space junk is any piece of machinery or junk or debris or waste, left by the human in outer space is known as space junk as well as space debris. What thinks includes in space debris
- Not working satellites (dead satellites).
- Rocket launching wastes.
- Non-functional spacecraft.
- Fragmentation debris from the breakup of derelict rocket bodies.
- Abandoned launch vehicle stages etc.
Some of NASA’s analysis provides the information that approximately 23,000 pieces of space waste are larger than a softball currently orbiting the earth. They are travel at the speed of 17,500 mph, fast for a relatively small piece of an object which can cause to make a damage to satellite or a spacecraft.
There are approximately half a million particles of space junk the size of a marble or larger (to tp 0.4 inches or 1 centimeter) or larger and approximately a hundred million particles of waste near about .04 inches and larger. There are also smaller particles of space debris in micrometer-sized are present in the earth’s orbit.
Very small debris of paint flecks can make damage the spacecraft when traveling at these velocities.
How it’s harming the Orbit of the Earth?
Following some past space mission disasters, shows how space debris is harmful to the future.
1966 a French satellite was hit by some tiny space debris from a French rocket that had exploded a decade earlier.
On 10 Feb of 2009, a Russian spacecraft collided with and destroyed a functioning US commercial spacecraft. This huge collision between these two spacecraft generates more than 2,300 particles of debris of large, track-able waste and many more small pieces of junk in earth orbit.
In 1978 the USSR (soviet) cosmos 954 satellites fell into a barren region of Canada’s northwest territories. When it was crashed, it spread radioactive waste from its onboard nuclear reactor over a wide swath of land.
In 2007 china launched an anti-satellite test in which a missile was used to destroy an old weather satellite, this hit added more than 3,500 particles of large, track-able, and much more small pieces of junk in the orbit.
What is Kessler syndrome?
Kessler syndrome is an idea proposed by the NASA scientist Donald Kessler in late 1978. He said that if the number of space debris is increasing it could result in a chain reaction where more and more objects collide and create new debris in this process in the future the earth’s orbit will never longer for usable.
A 1kg object impacting at 10 km/s for example is probably capable of catastrophically breaking up a 1,000 kg spacecraft if it strikes a high-density element in the spacecraft. In such a breakup, numerous fragments larger than 1 kg would be made.
How to handle the problem of Space Debris?
Several methods can help to reduce the problem of space debris. For this issue, the ESA (European space agency) make the first space debris removal mission named Clearspace-1.
The Clearspace-1 mission will be the first mission that is responsible for the removal of an item of waste from the earth’s orbit. The launch of this mission will plan for 2025.
Clearspace-1 will target the conical upper part of the payload adapter that delivered Proba-V into orbit. The Clearspace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) upper stage left in an approximately 800 km by 660 km altitude orbit after the second flight of ESA’s Vega launcher back in 2013. With a mass of 100 kg, the Vespa is close in size to a small satellite; while its relatively simple shape and sturdy construction make it a suitable first goal, before progressing to larger, more challenging captures by follow-up missions – eventually including multi-object capture. The Clearspace-1 mission will be launched in the lower earth orbit at an altitude of 500km.
The issue of space debris also can be resolved by making some strict international laws on space launches. Set a satellite launch limit for the nations which can help for controlling the problem of space debris and making further policies for removing the debris from space.