Space Debris – Efforts to Clean Up – build up of junk becoming dangerous to earth
The European Space Agency (ESA) is part of an international effort to monitor and tackle space debris. This junk has accumulated in orbit since the dawn of the space age sixty years ago. It poses an increasing risk to operational spacecraft.
ESA is developing missions to tackle the problem to help prevent a serious collision in space. The Agency is also monitoring possible dangers caused by fragments of redundant spacecraft falling to Earth. An example is China’s space station Tiangong-1. It is due to enter the atmosphere in the coming months.
More than 18 thousand objects travel around earth. Each of them a threat to space travel and satellites.
Methods and ideas for catching or dealing with the junk are being put together. They are planned by specialists in the industry and monitored by the European Space Agency. But more needs to be done. There are signs of danger should any of the pieces fall to earth.
With so many out there anything could happen and lead to a stop in space exploration.
Debris in space needs immediate action not only from Europe but around the world. Loose particles swirl around in a spiral effect. They end up crashing into each other causing more rubbish.
Luisa Innocenti, Head of Clean Space Office, ESA:
The big ones are the ones that if they get impacted, will create a cloud of other smaller debris, which in turn could hit other debris and this could start what is called a Kessler syndrome. A chain reaction which is not controllable.
It is likely that humans will eventually live in space. Here is an article by space writer Anna Kucirkova that puts into perspective the need to clean-up space.
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