News Nation Logo

Space debris may be heading to a disastrous collision with satellites and astronauts, warns ESA

Millions Of Objects Are Floating Above Earth As A Result Of Over 4,900 Space Launches Since 1957. Shockingly, Only 4 Per Cent Of These Are Working Spacecrafts, While Around 94 Per Cent Have Now Become Useless Objects.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 12 Apr 2017, 03:58:41 PM
Space debris: ESA fears disastrous collision between cosmic trash and satellites including ISS

New Delhi:

The cosmic debris or millions of objects that float in the orbit around our planet Earth are potential threat in near future. Experts belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA) have warned that the debris may one day end up in a disastrous collision with satellites and astronauts in space.

The ESA, which is now hoping to tackle the issue of space debris, has said that it fears the cosmic trash may lead to an impact like an 'exploding grenade' on the objects, including International Space Station (ISS), one day.

According to experts, the cosmic debris could one day end up in leaving the space unsuitable for space missions. The space debris issue will be discussed in an international meeting, scheduled to take place next week.

A new video has been released by the ESA which explains the issue and also the measures the agency hopes to take.

Millions of objects are floating above Earth as a result of over 4,900 space launches since 1957. Shockingly, only 4 per cent of these are working spacecrafts, while around 94 per cent have now become useless objects.

Fragments from 250 breakups, explosions and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies make for about 64 per cent of the routinely tracked objects. Experts are worried that these objects may cause catastrophic harm to astronauts or technology one day.

Holger Krag, head of space debris at the agency, said of an impact speaking in the ESA video: “It is not comparable to a gunshot. The energy contained in a one centimetre (0.4 inch) particle hitting a satellite at that velocity, roughly corresponds to an exploding grenade. These collisions generate more fragments, and these fragments are candidates for new collisions to come.”

To address the issue of space debris, scientists from around the world are meeting in Darmstadt, Germany at the seventh European Conference on Space Debris to be held at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, from April 18-21.

The delegates will discuss tactics in debris avoidance as well as concepts for removing the debris and creating more junk.

”The largest fear we have is that we enter in some sort of cascading effect, where one collision triggers the next one. This is not anything that will happen in a microsecond like in the movie Gravity. It will set in slowly, hardly noticeably, but unstoppable. Over decades, the frequency of collisions might increase without human influence, Dr Krag added.

“That is a situation that might render some regions in space unusable for space flight and that would be a disaster.”

A number of possible solutions have been suggested for clearing away the debris.

Scientists at the University of Surrey had in 2016 announced their plans to launch a satellite to test ways of removing some of the 7,000 tonnes of space junk from earth's orbit.

Nets, drag sails and harpoons will be tested as methods for removing junk out of orbit and to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. It is expected to launch this year.

ALSO READ | Japan launches space junk collector vessel 'Kounotori' into orbit to clear clutter

For all the Latest Science News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.

First Published : 12 Apr 2017, 02:54:00 PM

Related Tags:

Debris Earth Satellites ESA