American and European officials criticized Russia’s youngest Missile test which exploded an orbiting satellite into many parts. Scientists said these orbiting debris will increase the risks to people and their space efforts in the years to come.
But what kind of rubble is that – also called space? rubbish – and what are the security threats it poses?
Space debris is everything that humans have placed in space but no longer use. The junk hovers hundreds of kilometers above the earth. Experts say that the main concern is that such debris will hit a space station, satellite, or other equipment.
Space debris orbits the earth very quickly – around 25,000 kilometers per hour in a near-earth orbit. The scrap could do a lot of damage if it hits satellites or spacecraft.
“Every satellite that goes into orbit has them potential To become space junk, ”said Professor Hugh Lewis of the UK University of Southampton. Lewis, who heads the university’s astronautics research group, spoke to Reuters news agency.
With the number of satellite installations increasing, near-Earth space is likely to see more space debris in the years to come. Russia isn’t the only country that has destroyed a satellite. China, the US and India have also carried out anti-satellite missile tests.
How big is the rubble?
The US government traces about 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the earth. About 500,000 pieces of debris are larger than an inch and 100 million pieces are about a millimeter or larger.
Holger Krag is head of the Space Safety Program Office of the European Space Agency. He told Reuters that if the buildup of debris continues, some areas of space could potentially become unusable.
What was the effect of the last test?
The recently destroyed satellite Russia was launched in 1982. He weighed more than 2,000 kilograms. American officials said the test produced more than 1,500 pieces of “detectable orbital debris”. U.S. Space Command said the missile attack likely caused hundreds of thousands of additional smaller debris.
Crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were instructed to seek shelter in their attached spacecraft capsules for two hours after the test. The safety measure was taken in the event that the crew had to leave due to possible damage from rubble.
Can space junk be removed?
The American space agency NASA says debris in orbits 600 kilometers or less from Earth will fall back to the planet within a few years. But space junk over 1,000 kilometers is likely to orbit for a century or more.
“If we are to try to solve the space debris problem, we have to start by eliminating that Type of objects, ”said Professor Lewis of the University of Southampton. Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have partnered with private companies to find ways to remove space debris.
Debris not only poses a threat to space property and astronauts, it also increases costs for satellite operators. Industry experts estimate that space debris protection and mitigation measures make up around 5-10 percent of satellites Mission Costs. A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the cost of lower Earth orbits was even higher.
I am Bryan Lynn.
Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in this story
rubbish – n. Material that no longer works or is useful
potential – n. have or show the ability to become or develop in the future
Spur – V. record the progress or development of something
Type – n. some kind of something
Mission – n. an important project or trip, especially space-related