Saturday, January 18, 2020

An estimated 6,000 tons of “space junk” orbits Earth each day

At the United Nations Geneva Meeting in 2019, the President and Co-Founder of BlockchainArmy, Erol User, urged all institutions, governments, as well as private sector corporations to join in the initiative called S.O.S, short for Save Our Space. The initiative is an effort to organize a space waste management system.

In his speech at the meeting in Switzerland, Dec. 14, Erol User said that now is the time for everyone to begin cooperating "to guarantee economically vital spaceflight" to facilitate innovative service offerings for the citizens along with future space developments. Continuing further, he stated that we need to keep up the dream of future exploration while also combining continual technological development and environmental awareness.

Not much needs to be said when it comes to how attracted humans have been towards space since the beginning of time. It has always been a very exciting element and has attracted several explorations through spacecraft, rockets, satellites, etc. The intentional or accidental explosion of space objects, flecks of paint from space objects, residual elements from space missions, etc., all end up floating at very high speed (some 18,000 miles per hour) in an orbit that surrounds our earth called "Low Earth Orbit" or LEO. For instance, the deliberate destruction of the Chinese Fengyun-1C spacecraft in 2007 and the accidental collision of an American and a Russian spacecraft in 2009 are two of the main reasons why LEO is turning into a space garbage orbit. These two incidents have dominated LEO's space debris levels by approximately 70 percent.

Over the years, these leftover space objects have contributed to space junk or space debris. Space debris is a growing issue for humankind today, which can have its claws dug deep into the future generations.

Space debris is environmentally bad as we are leaving unnatural objects in space. Eventually, the satellites will need to come down into the earth's atmosphere, which poses a high possibility of them burning into flames. A much worse scenario is dealing with the leftover fuel in those satellites leading them to explode in earth's atmosphere.

For simple purposes such as communication and weather reports, manmade satellites are orbiting earth in geostationary orbit, which is 35,000 kilometers above the planet. These satellites are usually blasted into a "graveyard orbit” when they reach the end of their service life, which is around 36,000 km above earth. In the past, the blasting episodes were less and manageable, but with growing technology, space pollution is only becoming a burdening issue. Researchers from Australia are currently monitoring approximately 29,000 pieces of space junk.

One company looking into the space debris problem is Electro Optic Systems of Australia. The company's Chief Executive and Technical Director Professor Craig Smith is trying to come up with a "high-powered, high-precision laser," according to reports. This laser is under developed at the Space Environment Research Centre. The ambition is to push space junk out of the way and prevent collisions with other satellites. Another use of the laser is to destroy space junk eventually. The laser is expected to be fully functional in three years.

It is a serious issue. We have oceans and rivers, and we pollute them until they become almost unusable. We have done exactly the same with space. We have left junk everywhere,” Smith said. An approximation from NASA says there is 6,000 tons of space debris orbiting in the LEO.

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