( Four minute read)
With all the problems in the world one would think that we would be avoiding adding to them.
We ignored environmental violations. As a result, we have killed thousands of species, but what might be worse is that we are likely going to kill ourselves. This doesn’t mean we would have all-out nuclear war, but our tendencies to pollute and not care are going to cause harm. This is the issue with pollution out in space.
It’s a serious issue.
We have oceans and rivers, and we pollute them until they become almost unusable. We’ve done exactly the same with space.
The atmosphere is polluted with thousands of objects, no different than all the pollutants dumped in our oceans.
On Earth, natural processes disintegrate or just moves our trash out of sight — everything in space stays there unless we bring it back down. (Left to gravity alone, satellites can take decades to re-enter the atmosphere and combust.)
From the first launch in 1957, humanity has been launching thousands of projectiles into space and everything we have sent up is still there.
Though nobody gave a shit in the early days of space exploration, we were dumping as much as we want with no concern for the consequences.
We have made the space pollution problem and now we are forced to fix it.
All the debris that is now floating in space is like when ancient bugs become fossilized in amber — it’s a complete untarnished record of sixty years of carelessness.
Yet even our actions in the atmosphere still have an impact on us — no different than the harms of deforestation and marine pollution. Space is an environment that is as sacred as the terrestrial mountains and streams.
Countries also add to the space trash by blowing up satellites. This has been done by the U.S, Russia, India, and China, but in-particular, India has been testing their anti-satellite missiles.
Nass is able to track about 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball — however there are an estimated half a million pieces the size of a marble that are much more difficult to track and an inconceivable amount of microparticles smaller than a fingernail that are virtually impossible to detect.
Even tiny pieces of metal and paint flecks fly around the Earth at the speed of orbit — about 17,500 miles per hour. On Earth this is the equivalent of a 550 pound object going 60 miles per hour, which would smash right through a car. Even microparticles can cause tremendous damage — spacecraft can be carved with deep gouges on the exterior and bear cracked glass.
The prospect of a clean-up is massive and currently there is no realistic solution.
Every collision is generating more debris and shrapnel as pieces flew apart on impact. This debris then collide with other debris and spacecraft, creating even more shrapnel. Eventually space will become impenetrable due to the unstoppable cascade of colliding debris.
If we, as a species, want to explore the universe, we first must perfect our abilities here at home. If this involves cleaning up after our previous messes, then the future of space travel will be as secure as ever. Therefore, for the betterment of humanity, space debris must be cleaned up, or else, in the long-run, it will have devastating impacts on our exploration and daily lives.
Humans have been polluting the Earth for centuries before any laws came into force.
Space has no laws, country governing it use. Private companies are free to do or launch as many satellites as they wish.
I say that is time we that when an orbital mission is planned, it must include a legal binding strategy to remove the spacecraft from the orbit within 25 years.
I would also argue that space is a culturally valuable environment because the manmade objects up there are a record of the development of technology and of contemporary telecommunication. There is a huge number of really interesting abandoned and non-functional satellites and spacecraft that tell the story of the space age and how the humans engage with a very challenging space environment.
We need to make some serious progress in the next decade, 20 years tops, if we are going to prevent disaster.
A space environmental management plan to preserve significant technology and satellites that may have played an important part in history, and does not want to see space junk mindlessly destroyed.
A binding international agreement on how to deal with this stuff.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.