.Space debris or Space Junk is the result of humans launching objects from the earth to space. The discarded launch vehicles or parts of spacecraft that float around are space debris. Countries like Russia, China, the United States, and other developed nations have shot satellites, creating space debris. These orbits around the earth at about 15,700 miles per hour (25,265kph).
Debris can also be caused by an explosion in space. This happens when humans conduct missile tests to destroy their own satellites with missiles. They remains after the destruction that floats in the space orbit. Debris have a greater risk of collision with the existing satellites or a space station. Every satellite launched in orbit has the potential chance of becoming an Orbit.
What happens if the space debris collides with space stations or other space debris?
Let’s just say it is not a situation one wants to imagine being into. In September of 2021, three astronauts who were serving abroad at the International Space Station were ordered to be prepared for immediate escape craft as NASA had detected a large piece of space debris heading towards them. Had the debris been successful in hitting the spacecraft. The chances of those astronauts would have hardly for survival.
The first orbit collision accident accorded in 2009, at 776km altitude above Siberia. An American communication satellite Named, Iridium-33, had collided with a Russian military satellite Named, Kosmos2251, at the speed of 11.7 km/s. Here more than 2300 trackable fragments were generated and found.
Sources of Space debris:
Launching of the spacecraft and installation of satellites are the major cause of space debris. It’s their remaining parts that cause the large volume of junk in the space environment which tends to travel around the Earth’s orbit with high velocity. There are, however, many other reasons for this as well.
More than 2460 solid rocket-motor firings have released aluminum oxide (AI203) in the form of micrometer-sized dust. These are the most important non0fragmented debris source in space.
Another such source was the release of thin copper wires as a part of radio communication experiments during the Midas mission.
Next would be the ejection of 16 ejection events countless droplets of reactor coolant liquid which were released into space after the end of operation of Russian radar ocean reconnaissance satellites in the 1980s.
In the past 6 decades of space activities, more than 6050 launches have been released in space. They have resulted in some 56450 tracked object in the orbit, of which about 28160 remains in space and covers about 5-10 cm in low-Earth orbit. These fragments are regularly tracked by US Space Surveillance Network and maintained in their catalog.
About 24% of the cataloged object in space are satellites, and about 11% are spent on upper stages and mission-related objects such as launch adapted and lenses covers.
The US government tracks about 23 thousand debris that is larger than a ball that has been orbiting the earth. Debris that is situated near the International Space Stations, orbits the earth 15 to 16 times a day. Every astronaut in ISS is living under the probability of possible collision at any point.
Orbit explosions and their aftermath:
According to experts “The major reason to trigger orbit explosion is related to residual or remaining fuel that remains in fuel tanks or fuel lines, or any other source of energy that remains on board once the rocket stage or satellite has been discarded in earth orbit.
After floating in the space orbit for a while. The harsh environment reduces the mechanical integrity of the external and internal parts which leads to leaking of the components of the fuel, even mixing sometimes. This process can trigger combustion. The explosion then followed by can destroy the object and scatter its mass into fragments in space.
Risk caused by Space debris:
There is scientific anticipation that space debris shall lead to major problems for spaceflights around the earth. Any object that orbits at the altitude of around 1000 kilometers (620 miles), will be at a higher risk of collision with the floating debris.
Debris once created in space has the tenancy to create more debris in the atmosphere. The small objects in space can cause damage to solar panels and optics like telescopes or star trackers. Since these objects are very tiny yet powerful and travel at high speed, cannot be shielded by the ballistic shield. Any debris larger than 1 cm can damage or even destroy a satellite.
Environmental Threat from Space debris on Earth:
Space Launch’s leave behind the carbon footprint due to the burning of solid rocket fuels. The liquid hydrogen fuels that are used to push rockets towards space, exhaust the clean water vapor. The traces or released gases on the upper atmosphere plays a vital role in the depletion of the Ozone layer depletion. These gases work in a lethal way to the ozone layer and make the earth vulnerable to the direct UV rays from the sun.
The pieces of Space junk will gradually lose altitude and burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. The case is different in terms of larger debris, they can occasionally impact with earth and have a negative effect on the environment. One such example is the debris from a Russian rocket, launched from Kazakhastan includes old fuel tanks with highly toxic fuel and a carcinogen which when exposed to the earth’s surface can be harmful to plants and animals. This exposer brought the need for debris management to light. When many people from that area started getting sick in larger numbers the reason was addressed and efforts to control it started.
The hazardous debris or space junk with potentially toxic substances when burns up in space. It re-enters through the earth’s atmosphere can cause a huge lift in greenhouse gases. The atmosphere gets polluted with toxic gases which lead to problems for all the living organisms on the earth. Much big debris has collided with the spacecraft the remains of it travel back to the earth’s surface hinting a great danger to mankind.
Earth’s gravity pulls the debris downward and incinerates it in the thicker lower atmosphere. The increasing carbon dioxide lowers the density of the upper atmosphere. This will naturally decay into the thicker lower atmosphere and burn up in less than a decade.
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