Video: Orbital debris threatens satellites

space debris

Credit: Public domain Pixabay / CC0

The launch of Sputnik, humanity’s first satellite, in 1957 marked the dawn of a new era for the peoples of Earth.

Decades later, our planet is now surrounded by spacecraft doing extraordinary work to study our climate change, save lives in the aftermath of disasters, provide global communications and navigation services, and help us respond to challenges. important scientific questions.

But these satellites are in danger. Accidental collisions between objects in space can produce huge clouds of rapidly moving debris. These clouds can propagate and damage additional satellites with a cascading effect, ultimately making the most useful orbits around Earth safer for spacecraft or people.

Satellites must now perform collision avoidance maneuvers to avoid a possible impact with debris. These are expensive and hundreds of collision avoidance alerts are already issued every week.

And that’s nothing compared to what’s coming. Several companies have started to launch mega-constellations into low Earth orbit to provide global Internet access. They have great benefits, but could be a source of huge disruption if we don’t change our behavior.

Our current methods of avoiding collisions in space will become inadequate in a few years, and even adhering to space debris mitigation guidelines may not be enough.

Credit: European Space Agency

It’s time to act.

ESA is developing technologies for an automated collision avoidance system, as well as methods of refueling, repairing and upgrading satellites in orbit, extending mission life and potentially reducing the number of new satellites to launch.

ESA is also working on debris removal missions that will fly to dead spaceships and debris objects, capture them and bring them to safety – either by sending them to burn in Earth’s atmosphere or into “orbits.” cemetery ”.

By reaching space, we have brought enormous benefits to Earth, providing technologies that enrich our societies, connect people in ways previously unimaginable, and give us an incredible perspective and understanding of our planet.

We know what will happen if we continue on the current path, but we also know exactly what we need to do to change this fate and ensure humanity’s access to space for future generations.

Falling to Earth takes a long time

Provided by the European Space Agency

Quote: Video: Orbital debris threatens satellites (2021, April 20) retrieved April 20, 2021 from

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