An article written by: Lee Sonogan
“Every day we use and rely on services provided by satellites without ever realising how vulnerable they are. It’s not just that satellites can be damaged or destroyed by space debris today or tomorrow, it’s that the actions of our generation may affect the dreams and ambitions of future generations to work and live in space.” – Dr Lewis – University of Southampthon
Nasa defines space junk or debris as “any man-made object in orbit about the Earth which no longer serves a useful function”. Currently, there are thousands of man-made objects orbiting the Earth. From active satellites to Elon Musk launching a car into orbit, there are questions about this problem that are surely to arise. Satellites are created and launched by governments, companies and individuals which are used as communication devices at a broader scale but how much is too much?
When people imagine space it is infinity, but the orbiting space around our planet and close planets around us is limited and it’s only a matter of time until we could see a serious collision. Each piece or particular man-made waste is travelling at speeds of up to 28,000 km/h (17,398 mph). And then sometimes there has been recorded space Junk falling back to the Earth. Scientists are working on ways to clean up space junk.
Research has been put in to deal with any potential threats from space. The US catalogues and tracks all space Junk. An estimated 100 million pieces of space junk are orbiting the Earth. Detecting more than man-made or large objects there is said to be about over half a million objects as the size as small balls with the number most likely to increase. These small balls are a danger to any expansion into space. Space Stations have had to move because of this one danger.
For the sheer amount orbiting our planet, anything that could potentially happen could be critical to the events on Earth. It could lead to conflict around the world from the mistaken situation, and/or interruption of communication. And in the most likely scenario, any collision would most likely increase the problem 100-fold. As all identified objects placed in our orbit would changes places all at the same time.
Facts about the space Junk:
- The biggest piece of junk made by humans in space is the American Vanguard I that was launched into Earth’s orbit in 1958. It’s also the oldest surviving man-made space debris still in orbit.
- In year of 2012, Russia had 1446 satellites in orbit over the Earth; The US had 1111.
- If the theory on the “Kessler effect” ever became a reality it could render future space travel impossible.
- According to the European Space Agency (ESA) the number of collision alerts (satellites vs debris) has doubled in the past decade to 1,200 per year. This study suggests that this number will quadruple over the next 5 years if we don’t find a solution.
- Satellites are very expensive. and they costs about $100 million to build them with another $50 million to launch them.
- Much more not listed here!
Whatever action is taken, the financial cost will be huge but will be important in a matter of centuries otherwise we will be trapped on Earth by every single kind of space junk or worse. Being that it could attract unknown moving objects into its full orbit or into surrounding gravity fields. The Space Fence Project is ambitious for now, but will it be enough? Overall I feel safe because of the unlikely chance so far, though as I find more information about space junk, the chance of expanding in space’s creditability is low at the moment.
“There are so many problems to solve on this planet first before we begin to trash other worlds.” – E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,