Debris in space piles up to pose a risk – too much junk floating in space

 

The sky might be filled with stars, but then it has plenty of garbage as well. Humans beings have launched lots of satellites into space (around 1,700 operational space crafts are orbiting our planet), and every satellite does not come back to earth. Lots of them continue to speed through the sky long even after scientists have lost contact. It might lead them to collide with one another and crumble to pieces. NASA has come to estimation that there are about 23,000 pieces of space remnants which are more significant than 10 centimeters. Another 500,000 pieces are larger than 1 centimeter and around 100,000,000 bigger than 1 millimeter.

A metal piece as small as a sesame seed would seem harmless however even such minuscule bits pose a high risk. Tiny flakes of paint have chipped off the International Space Station’s thick windows, which moves close to menacing hunks of space debris. That is how fast garbage can runs. 

As the speed of such junk is more than that of a bullet traveling at 250 miles an hour, a sub-millimeter piece of junk poses a risk to astronauts conducting spacewalks outside the International Space Station. The debris can even create a hole in the spacecraft whereas larger debris is capable of completely crushing a satellite.

As per J.D. Harrington, a NASA public affairs officer, space debris is a real threat. Due to ongoing activities, the problem is likely to get aggravated and might create complications for space projects in the future.

Even though NASA has no plans to conduct a clean-up, the agency is trying to keep the problem from getting worse by seeing to it that ensuing missions have a clean-up arrangement in place. It includes disposing of space crafts which are longer operational or any parts that they might eject. 

Other solutions are being worked upon at the moment. In the 2017 European Conference on Space Debris, scientists considered shifting the real junk to higher orbits. It could then be captured by using capturing nets, magnets or harpoons. The International Space Station is planning to start a test project this month named the RemoveDEBRIS, which will be able to catch pieces of artificial junk before they get burned out. 

One thing to note is residents on Earth are not at any risk from space debris. Junk does fall down but then it usually burns up or breaks down, and the remnants are practically harmless. Since water bodies cover most of Earth, chances of a human being getting hurt are slim. 

Sources:

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