FP InterpreterApril 11, 2022 15:03:21 IST
We have a space problem and when we talk about space, we don’t mean area, but we talk about cosmology!
According to a recent report in the Orbital Debris Quarterly News published by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, there are 25,182 space debris larger than 10 centimeters in low-Earth orbit within 2,000 kilometers of Earth’s surface.
Of these, India is responsible for only 114 space debris, the United States has 5,126 objects that can be classified as space debris in Earth orbit, and China has 3,854 objects, including rocket corpses orbiting the earth.
The report further states that the level of Indian space debris dropped to the level of 2018 when it conducted an anti-satellite test for the first time in 2019 when it saw a spike.
Read more: 27,000 man-made objects in Earth’s orbit, and count: space junk to stay here
Before we go into more detail in the report, let’s find out what space debris is and why it can be a problem.
What is space debris?
Space debris, also known as space junk, is any man-made object in Earth’s orbit that no longer serves any useful purpose.
Large objects such as dead satellites that have failed or left in orbit, or small objects, such as bits of debris or colored flakes falling from a rocket, are prime examples of space debris.
Britannica Explain that this material can be as large as a discarded rocket stage or as small as a microscopic chip of paint. Most of the debris is in low Earth orbit, within 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of the Earth’s surface, although some debris can be found in geostationary orbits 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above the equator.
According to experts, all space junk is the result of the launch of objects from our Earth. Debris or satellites left at an altitude of 36,000 km – where communications and weather satellites are often placed in geostationary orbits – can orbit the Earth for hundreds or even thousands of years.
In other cases, space junk may occur during a collision between two satellites or during an anti-satellite test.
Anti-satellite tests are rare, but there are instances when the United States, China and even India have used a missile to launch their own satellites, creating thousands of new debris.
India’s anti-SAT test and the resulting debris
The issue of space debris became the first big news when India conducted a mission test, an anti-satellite missile test from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island Launch Complex on March 27, 2019.
.DRDO_India Successfully launches ballistic missile defense # BMD Interceptor missile, an anti-satellite # As Missile test # Mission power Deployment of an Indian target satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) in ‘hit to kill’ mode from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island pic.twitter.com/n5DEWLQpSp
– PIB India (PIB_India) March 27, 2019
In the test, India destroyed an extinct Indian satellite in an orbit of 300 km. The incident has become big news as India has become the fourth country to possess such technology after the United States, China and Russia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the move, saying it was “historic”.
There are moments in the journey of every nation that bring absolute pride and have a historical impact on the next generation.
Such a moment today.
India successfully tests anti-satellite (ASAT) missile Congratulations to everyone for the success # Mission power.
– Narendra Modi (arenarendramodi) March 27, 2019
However, the move drew criticism from NASA, along with its administrator – Jim Brydenstein – who said the experiment produced 60 pieces of orbital debris large enough to track, 24 more than the orbit of the International Space Station around Earth.
Bridenstein then said that such measures were unacceptable. “It’s a terrible, horrible thing, to create an event that sends debris to an apogee that goes over the International Space Station,” Brydenstein said at a town hall meeting, which was broadcast live on NASA TV. “And such activity is not consistent with the future of the human spacecraft that we need to see.”
One year later, NASA found at least 28 wreckage from an A-SAT missile test, according to a published report. Print.
According to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, NASA initially tracked at least 101 debris from A-SAT tests, 28 of which were in low-Earth orbit.
Read more: India’s anti-satellite test wreckage still zipped in orbit and now we know why
Danger of space junk
The biggest problem with space junk is the danger it poses to other satellites in orbit. Space debris can hit these satellites and cause potential damage or destruction.
Debris can increase costs for satellite operators. Industry experts estimate that protection and reduction efforts to deal with space junk make up about 5-10 percent of satellite mission costs.
Space debris could potentially create unusable areas in orbit due to pollution.
Can we clean up the mess?
According to NASA, debris from an orbit below 600 kilometers will return to Earth in a few years, but above 1000 kilometers it will continue to orbit the earth for a century or more.
Astroscale, a Japanese start-up, has contracted to find and recover used satellites and other space debris used by Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The European Space Agency is working with Swiss start-up ClearSpace to launch a mission in 2025.
In India, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was exploring the technology needed to remove active debris.
State Minister for PMO Jitendra Singh said ISRO has set up the Department of Space Situation Awareness and Management to address issues related to space debris.
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