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We are all aware of various kinds of environmental pollutions. Earth is a part of the solar system or otherwise a very small part of the universe. The modern telecommunications and other technological advancement were brought into action by men when he started launching missiles or satellites. Here scientifically we call it remote sensing. Remote sensing happens in space. At present several numbers of satellites of different countries are revolving around the earth. What happens to these satellites when the assigned mission is completed successfully or what happens to these satellites if it failed to complete its mission or deactivate it?    Now it’s time to give some attention to space. What happened to the satellites that launched for the past 60 years? These dead satellites are parted by time and collide and break into many pieces, it becomes big space debris. This space junk is a severe issue that we should worry about it.     

Image source : NASA

Space debris contains both natural (like meteoroids) and artificial (like satellite particles). It’s too messy out there simply because men have placed so many objects into orbit. Old satellites and rockets broke and these broken satellites are collided with each other and create more debris. Earth is surrounded by a lot of flying trash. This situation makes orbit unusable. The increasing percentage of debris affects the space vehicle very badly. This satellite infrastructure includes weather, climate monitoring, telecommunication, navigation… etc. these services by satellite are critical and daily beneficial for the society. The loss of these kinds of critical services will damage the modern society.

          All major space agencies are looking for a solution to this problem. There a few methods to clean the messy space which is introduced by scientists of different countries are sticky booms, recycling satellite, self-destructing janitor satellites, space balloons, space net etc. China Air Force engineering has proposed an idea of space-based laser to minimize the space debris, Scientists in the UK developed another idea to remove a larger piece of space debris from orbit, their plan was developing a giant harpoon that attached with a strong tether to a space vehicle which would catch-up space junk and the space vehicle get junk back to the earth. It is not an easy task to collect debris from the orbit. Some major space agencies have tracked around 50000 space junk as they orbit the earth. This trash is traveling at the speed of 17000 mph. We can call space junk is the greatest risk for the space missions. This space junk is found with the help of ground radar and optical measurements performed by a space surveillance system of leading space agencies. According to the survey of  European space agency (ESA)  they started launching satellites since 1957, around 7500 satellites are placed into orbit, which around 4300 satellites are remaining in space, only a few satellites are still operational there.

Space debris – intense scene from a movie

An international community named IADC (Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee). The aim of this committee is to coordinate efforts to deal with space debris. This committee includes all major space agencies and their scopes are

  1. Limitation of debris released during normal operations.
  2. Minimization of the potential for on-orbit breakups.
  3. Post-mission disposal
  4. Prevention of on-orbit collisions.

On 18 June 2018 US president Trump signed for the new space directive policy. This policy addresses several issues regarding monitoring objects of orbit and providing information to the spacecraft operators to avoid a collision and give instructions to limit the growth of orbital debris. This kind of initiation gives us a hope that we can reduce the growth of space junk from here. From now on, for all space missions in all countries must include precaution for safe disposal when the mission ends so that they do not contribute to the already unsustainably large population of debris objects. It should be properly implemented by space crafter designers and mission operators. Space debris is a classic tragedy as common that may ruin the modern technology of people.

Check few more articles on Space Debris.

Space junks and Human Spacecraft
Latest News About Space Junk and Orbital Debris

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Geospatial Technologies in Environmental Sciences
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Muhammed Naseef

GIS Scholar


  • Parvathy · August 13, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Good work. The Earth and the Space are polluting day by day due to anthropogenic activities.

  • Anonymous · August 14, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Space pollution… Never thought about it.. New knowledge

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