âSpace isn’t just a garbage can, folks, it’s really something we need to take care of,â James Head, professor of geological sciences at Brown University in the United States, Recount CGTN recently.
Head was referring to the growing problem of space waste. The World Economic Forum noted that 6,000 satellites currently revolve around the Earth – 60% of them are deceased. So basically about 3,600 satellites in space right now are space junk. Research also suggests that nearly a thousand satellites will be launched into space each year until 2028, a fourfold increase from the previous decade. This would of course exponentially increase the amount of space debris it will eventually turn into.
It’s not just the old, dead satellites that constitute space debris. Think of the old abandoned rocket bodies floating in the vast expanse, the debris from collisions in space, and finally the random stray items – essentially, all the man-made objects that have ceased to perform a useful function.
In fact, in 2020, a moon-like object entered Earth orbit, which initially led scientists to speculate if it could be an asteroid. Finally, he turned outside to be space waste – a rocket propellant of the “Space race” during the cold war era between the United States and the Soviet Union
âIn the middle of the century, things will progress more. More nations will join the âspace clubâ, more space agencies will send astronauts into spaceâ¦ Business entities will establish a permanent presence and pursue many new types of space-related businessesâ¦ â, Matthew S. Williams, professional science writer and science fiction writer from Vancouver, wby heart. Williams added that “by 2050, commercial space travel, space tourism, orbital space stations and lunar habitats will likely become a reality.”
Recently, experts also pointed out that the Earth could potentially have Saturn-like rings of space debris around it – that’s the scale of the problem. “It’s a bit of the Wild West out there,” Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Recount The Guardian in November.
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Sadly, it’s not just the aesthetics of the âgarbageâ surrounding our planet that worries experts. Space debris – as far as it sounds – has very real impacts on human beings. There is simply a cost to the litter.
First, as Head pointed out, space debris poses a “safety concern” for people working in low earth orbit, especially with some of the debris reaching speeds of up to 29,000 kilometers per hour. Those at risk, among others, include those aboard the International Space Station and the Tiangong Space Station, which is currently under construction by China.
“[Space shrapnel] is more devastating than most modern weapons used in warfare today. When a 3-millimeter stain of paint struck a space shuttle window, it nearly penetrated through a 5-centimeter thick armored glass. NASA calculated that it would take a piece of debris only 1 centimeter in diameter to enter the cabin of a spacecraft. More than ten centimeters and your spaceship is a cactus â, an article from the Australian Academy of Sciences, Explain.
Additionally, to make matters worse, space waste can reach the earth – endanger the life of man and other species of flora and fauna. In fact, space debris at people injured in the past: sailors aboard a Japanese ship in 1969, and a woman from Oklahoma in 1997.
Donald Kessler, a former NASA scientist, proposed a theory in 1978. He argued that increasing space waste can set off a chain reaction, causing more and more objects to collide with each other, creating a greater density of waste in the process. This can reach a point where Earth’s orbit becomes completely unusable for satellites. If this happens, integral aspects of our modern lifestyles – from GPS to television to scientific advancement – risk being threatened.
In fact, space debris has already started to compromise space exploration. According to a Study 2021, space debris causes light pollution in space by reflecting sunlight back to Earth – as the reflected light interferes with astronomers’ ability to study space. “Now is definitely the time to be concerned about the future of professional and amateur astronomy,” said Gregory Brown, astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, had said The Guardian.
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âThe space around our planet is filled with garbage. It’s time to take out the trash! Nasa States on its website. Scientists around the world seem to be working in this direction.
Last January, it was reported that scientists at Kyoto University in Japan were working on building the world’s first wooden satellites by 2023. Researchers are also exploring options such as sending “space whips” In, well, space to force debris out of Earth’s orbit. . How do they plan to do it? Employing colossal magnets, harpoons, Where nets to knock down debris and using Earth’s atmosphere to burn debris.
A company is also considering recycling space debris – instead of capturing it – into rocket fuel. “It’s like developing a gas station in space”, HervÃ© Astier, from Neumann Space in Australia, Recount The Guardian. Another company – whose direct goal is not to reduce space waste but to combat environmental damage from rockets – is designing ways to catapult space vehicles out of Earth’s atmosphere like a slingshot.
Like the article on CGTN notes: âWhile much is being done to clean up our oceans and rivers, space debris is the responsibility of all the nations operating there. ”
This may be the next set of “space goals” to focus on in this decade.