It is common knowledge that space scientists among top space-faring nations are ever getting worried with the amount of space junk floating aimlessly above and orbiting our Earth, warning it could spark political rows and even armed conflicts among nations if care is not taken. And why is this?
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Because space debris is capable of impacting heavily or destroying military satellites shot up by individual nations, causing blames among nations who’d think a rival nation had shot down its satellite, The Guardian writes of the scientists' warning.
The scientists warn that disused and abandoned rockets and satellites among other space junk could smash into a functional satellite, damaging or destroying it, and causing the owner nation to think that another nation must have intentionally done this – all because scientists find it extremely difficult to determine what befell an operational satellite, knocking it out of service.
US and Russia presently monitor over 23,000 pieces of space debris bigger than 10cm, but analysts say over half a billion fragments sized one to 10cm among other tinier particles exist in space, posing daily threats to space hardware launched from Earth.
Considering the fact that space debris flying at over 30,000 mph could slam into satellites or spacecraft in low Earth orbit 100-1,200 miles above the Earth where most military satellites are stationed, Vitaly Adushkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow noted that quick action must be taken to clear this realm of space of debris or a political fracas may develop among rival nations.
According to Adushkin, repeated sudden failures of defense satellite have not always been explained even in the face of two possibilities: unobserved collision with space junk, or decisive action from a rival country.
China in 2007 destroyed one of its old satellites using a missile – showing the Asian country is capable of shooting down satellites from space – an action that produced 3,000 more debris in space. One of the debris hit Blits, a Russian satellite in 2013, causing Russia to quickly disable the hardware after the accident.
NASA initiated a report in 2011 warning of the exponential rise of space junk, and the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014 took evasive action five times to avoid slamming into space debris.
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Adushkin will be publishing his report in the journal Acta Astronautica.