A new video from the European Space Agency (ESA) has started pulling the ears of governments, businesses and scientists. Lasting 12 minutes, the ESA warns us of the dangers of space debris in the very near future.
Additionally, it explains how countries need to change their approaches to satellite technology if they want it to remain viable in the future.
On the other hand, a group of scientists published an article in the journal of natural astronomy, calling for the environmental protection of space. So far, it has been difficult to get media, government and corporate attention on Earth’s environmental issues. However, the problem does not stop at the surface of the planet and Earth’s orbit is dangerously filling with space junk.
According to the scientists responsible for launching the statement, this could lead to quite serious consequences in the close future; and worse in the long run.
More than 30,000 pieces of space debris have been recorded and are regularly tracked by space surveillance networks. As our technology improves, we detect an increasing number of unidentified objects. Due to the time elapsed between its creation and our observation, it is difficult to trace its origins back to a specific “fragmentation event”.
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency places particular emphasis on the considerable increase in satellite launches. Specifically, those that form constellations in low orbit of the planet. Among these can be found examples such as SpaceX’s Starlink; and Planet Labs Pelicans coming out in the next few years.
At the moment there are over 30,000 pieces of space junk floating around the planet. However, only the number is known. Other studies show that there could be more than a million coins larger than a centimeter orbiting the Earth.
The Huge Problem of Space Debris
Space debris is another obstacle to overcome in the fight against environmental pollution. However, the problems go far beyond mere contamination and could even hamper human technological progress if not tackled in time.
The biggest problem is space junk collisions. Although these are, in many cases, particles smaller than one centimeter; space junk travels at speeds such as colliding with functioning satellites would lead to their total loss.. This event, in turn, creates more debris particles which are scattered around the orbit and continue the cycle.If we continue like this, we might be impacted by the ‘Kessler syndrome‘, to describe Digital trends. In this situation, there would be so much debris in orbit that it would become impossible to avoid collisions between functional satellites and debris, making it difficult or even impossible to launch new space missions.
According to the researchers in their paper, we should also apply the same Earth protection lens to space. After all, satellites have become the best ally for the progress of humanity, and for the study of our planet. In doing so, we not only endanger public access to the stars but also “the cultural significance of the sky, as well as the sustainability of commercial, civic and military activity in space”, the scientist comments.