Thousands of space debris pieces are shown in a chilling video created by Stuart Grey of the University College London and released just recently by the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
The video is chilling. Space, the final frontier was once the pristine location that ignited the wildest of humankind’s dream. Until 1957 when Sputnik was launched into space, Earth’s orbit was this pristine place. Ever since, thousands of objects sent to space to help us conquer bits of the final frontier have been left there in a clutter of space debris which is now suffocating Earth’s orbit.
NASA is currently monitoring some of the space debris pieces under the Orbital Debris Program. Over 500,000 objects – space junk – are closely monitored. Hundreds of millions of other small space junk pieces cannot be followed. According to NASA releases, 21,000 pieces of space debris measure more than 3.9 inches. Others, in between 0.4 inches and 3.9 inches make up the largest part of the monitored space debris in Earth’s orbit.
Without bringing into question the fact that we are littering space, we are also self-sabotaging in a way. The smallest piece of space debris can become the biggest headache. These space junk pieces travel at a speed of up to 17,500 miles/hour. If their course happens to meet a functional satellite, a spacecraft or the International Space Station, the collision is bound to wreak havoc.
The numbers provided by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program may be difficult to actually visualize. Now, thousands of space debris pieces are shown in a chilling video for everyone to access. Since 1957, thousands of other objects have followed the first satellite to be launched in Earth’s orbit. Rockets have stages which deploy their load and are then left to float in space, adding to the clutter of space junk in Earth’s orbit.
Trying to launch yet another satellite in Earth’s orbit by any space agency of the world is a risky mission. The trajectory has to calculated precisely, taking into account the potential hazard posed by space debris pieces. Other spacecrafts launched in space are also in danger.
This year, in July, the International Space Station modified its orbit in order to avoid a collision with a space junk piece. In 2013, Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut noticed that one solar panel of the International Space Station was pierced by a piece of space debris.
Earth’s orbit is becoming a crowded space with all the space debris floating around. Space agencies around the world and world governments need to reimagine the way in which space exploration is conducted and communication satellites are launched. A major cleanup is needed as well as new technologies that could ensure no further space debris will add to the space junk already existing.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia