Space Debris Poses A Major Threat To Spacecrafts And Satellites, ESA Says

Posted: Apr 22 2017, 5:29pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 22 2017, 5:41pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Space Debris Poses a Major Threat to Spacecrafts and Satellites, ESA Says
Credit: ESA

Decades of man-made junk is cluttering up Earth's orbit and could make future space exploration difficult

Scientists and experts from around the world discuss the exponentially worsening problem of space debris at European Space Agency’s conference in Germany this week. They believe that several decades of space exploration have led to the accumulation of massive number of junk around the Earth's orbit and the space junk is posing a huge threat to spacecrafts and satellites we rely on for weather reports and global communications.

An estimated 750,000 objects larger than a centimeter are currently orbiting around the Earth and they all travel fast enough to damage a satellite or even destroy a spacecraft. If satellites are destroyed, we won't have weather reports, live broadcasts, stock market, air travel, online shopping etc. The loss, due to the rising population of space debris, would severely damage modern society and our economy.

Since the Russian satellite Sputnik launched in October 1957, more than 5000 space mission have been sent to the space and a large number of space debris came from the breakups, explosions and collisions of these satellites or rocket bodies. There are millions of more pieces of debris so small that can’t even tracked.

Numerous solutions have been presented to reduce space debris over the years and their implementation is becoming ever more important in view of the upcoming launches of thousands of satellites in low orbit. The nightmare scenario would be a Kessler syndrome – production of further junk as fragments smash into each other.

The rising population of space debris is dangerous to all space vehicles, but especially to those space shuttles and spacecraft with humans aboard. This will make the future space exploration almost impossible.

“Fast and reliable implementation of mitigation measures for all missions and a change in the operational paradigm to consider space-object disposal as an important part of the overall mission are essential to contain the growth of the space debris population and to preserve space for future generations,” said Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office and conference chair.

“The conference demonstrated that the technology is available and the need is understood everywhere. However, implementation of these countermeasures is still a challenge, and this has the utmost importance in view of plans to deploy constellations of hundreds of satellites in space.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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