What Is Space Debris?
Russia blew up one of its old satellites in November in a missile test that sparked international anger because of the space debris it scattered around the Earth’s orbit.
- Recently, a Chinese satellite (Tsinghua Science Satellite) had a near collision with one of the many chunks of debris left by the fallout of this Russian anti-satellite missile test.
- With more countries venturing into space with every passing decade, the problem is simply ballooning out of control and recent events, like the anti-satellite weapons test by Russia, are only exacerbating the problem.
- The debris is now adding to the space junk problem and posing a major risk to the International Space Station (ISS) and the satellites in geostationary orbit.
- The debris also poses a potential threat to the lives of the US, Russian, and Chinese astronauts and cosmonauts currently in space.
- Space debris poses a global threat to the continued use of space-based technologies that support critical functions like communication, transport, weather and climate monitoring, remote sensing.
- Predicting collision probability from these space objects is crucial from the national security perspective as well as for the protection of public and private space assets of Indian origin.
- The real amount of space debris is said to be between 500,000 and one million pieces as current sensor technology cannot detect smaller objects.
- They all travel at speeds of up to 17,500 mph (28,162 kmph) fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.
- Outcome of this project will directly support the Indian space sector, valued at $7 billion (Rs 51,334 crore) by providing an operationally flexible, scalable, transparent and indigenous collision probability solution.