Is The Inevitable End Near? Space Debris Around The Earth Is At Dangerous Levels


As if messing up the world was not enough, we've also been messing up space as well. Right now, there is a pile of waste in space that is entirely from our planet called 'space debris.' Space debrisjunkwastetrash, or litter is the collection of defunct man-made objects in space – old satellites, spent rocket stages, and fragments from disintegration, erosion, and collisions – including those caused by debris itself. If we don't do anything about this, the future doesn't look very bright.

If you watched the movie 'Gravity,' you have some idea about the various kinds of objects orbiting our planet.

That is, there are millions of objects in orbit that are called "space debris."

Space debris includes objects found in orbit around the Earth created by humans but no longer serve for any useful purpose.

These objects contain all the particles that are formed by the explosions and collisions of the used rocket sections and satellites.

750,000 objects larger than 1 cm in diameter and 166 million objects larger than 1 mm in diameter are orbiting at all times.

Like I said, most of the objects in the orbit (93%) don't have any functions today; What is worse, they're not under control.

These objects, which mostly wander and are unused, pose a great risk to the currently used satellites and other space vehicles. Because these objects, which run at speeds of up to 18,600 mph (30,000 km per hour), can cause huge damage if they hit these satellites.

As a matter of fact, in 2009, a Russian satellite that was no longer in use hit a US satellite.

After this gigantic collision, the two satellites were shattered, adding 2000 new pieces to the amount of space debris which had already reached dangerous numbers.

In 2014, the International Space Station (ISS) had to make a total of three trips in order to take themselves out of the path of the parts that could cause serious damage to them.

At this point, we have to talk about Kessler syndrome.

The Kessler syndrome, a runaway chain reaction of collisions exponentially increasing the amount of debris, has been hypothesized to ensue beyond a critical density. This could affect useful polar-orbiting bands increasing the cost of protection for spacecraft missions and could destroy live satellites. As a matter of fact, the scenario of Gravity was based on this phenomenon. The wreckage fragments, which had been harvested from a satellite burst in the film, slammed into other satellites, creating a growing mass of particles, making nearly all the satellites in orbit unusable.

When faced with such a situation, there is a protocol for astronauts at the International Space Station for them to be able to immediately return to Earth using the Soyuz capsule.

So this possibility is very realistic and is seriously considered. Moreover, the level of danger is increasing every year. The reason for this is we constantly send new satellites or other objects into orbit.

What needs to be done is clear, we need to bring unused satellites back to Earth.

Though it sounds easy to say, scientists have no idea how to carry out this action. So we can say that there is not much we can do for this dangerous situation. What makes the problem more troublesome is we don't have much time and there isn't a central authority that can lead the studies for this issue.

As you can understand, finding the real solution to the problem seems to be a painful process that we will leave to our future generations.

Although the future doesn't look very bright, at present, we still have one or two possible solutions. First of these is to follow these little objects and connect them with glue to a single space vehicle. The other is directed at gigantic satellites and aims to attract them towards the Earth by means of some sort of mechanism. Of course, the brainstorms about how we can design this mechanism are still ongoing.

Apart from that, the new satellites are required to be manufactured in a way to enable them to return to Earth after their time is over.

In any case, even if we start clearing this space debris tomorrow, it will take decades for us to clean up the orbit. For now, we are heading step by step to a disastrous end, so let's see what tomorrow brings.

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