What is Space Junk?
Only about 1350-1450 of the total 19000 artificial objects present In the orbit of our Earth are functional. The other non-functional objects are collectively known as Space Debris/Junk.
In layman’s term it leads to exponentially increase in Space Debris/Junk due to collision. Consider collision of two defunct satellites, it may create thousands of small pieces of metal. These pieces may further collide with one another or with other junk/debris to increase amount of further smaller pieces. Hence it is a chain reaction.
Why Space Junk/Debris is a concern:
Let’s discuss in brief why Space Junk/Debris is dangerous.
1) Harm to Space crafts and Satellites:
It may harm the active satellites. If debris happen to cross threshold level, it may become extremely difficult for spacecraft to leave the earth’s gravitational field.
2) The larger concern:
Debris falling towards Earth mostly burn up due to Earth’s atmosphere but larger debris can still reach the ground. NASA statistics shows that at least one debris peace falls back to ground every day. However, there has not been any damage on large scale due to this.
Dealing with the issue:
There are many techniques discussed to tackle the issue. Few of them are-
One such technology is that a satellite deorbits itself from the orbit once it completes its period of function. Mastering it will require a strong technical expertise.
2) External Removal:
This solution uses an object/vehicle that will be launched in the space. This vehicle will capture the debris and take it to the required destination. Tests to use this technology are going on.
3) International Regulation:
No binding framework has been developed by United Nations on this issue till now. This is a major issue of concern. The body need to develop such regulation in the near future.
A Step towards solution:
It is a mission to demonstrate the space junk/debris removal technologies. The mission will carry its own junk and then will perform various techniques to remove that debris. The mission is cofounded by European Commission and University of Surrey, UK. Such experiments should be taken to find an efficient technology to remove junk/debris. The problem is still emerging, there won’t be a better time to curb it.
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