By Earnest Wright  |  04-22-2017   News
Photo credit: Wisconsinart | Dreamstime.com

Space trash is a growing concern among space enthusiast who understands the dangers that such material poses. Footage from a mere 800 miles above Earth shows a wasp swarm of defunct satellites whipping around the globe.

The European Space Agency really is paying attention to the space debris problem. Based on the fact the problem is about to get worse. Experts have revealed that cheap, tiny satellites are shot through the stratosphere in unprecedented numbers.

The short film, “Space Debris: A Journey to Earth” was screened this week in Germany at the world's largest annual gathering of space debris experts. However, the news from space was not great. Reports from NASA indicate that hundreds of thousands of bits of space junk are orbiting Earth.

The junk includes tiny paint flecks that can take out a space shuttle window, and some 2,000 satellite shards left by a collision of Russian and American satellites several years ago.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet revealed that when a piece of debris whizzes past the space station, the space station crew has to climb into an escape shuttle, wait and hope that all goes well. Pesquet revealed that the unfortunate incident happened four times.

Retired NASA scientist Donald Kessler is known for coming up with an apocalyptic space-crash theory called the Kessler syndrome. Kessler pointed out in one of his keynote speech that some of this debris collide at 25,000 mph or so. They then explode into more debris, which hit yet more debris, and a catastrophic chain reaction of collisions is initiated.

Kessler predicted this in the 1970s, when space had fewer things in it. During this week's conference, Kessler previewed a new study he worked on that found that a statistically meaningful number of satellites have been damaged by debris.

Satellites are getting smaller and cheaper, more and more of them are going into orbit to potentially smash into each other. Back in February, the New York Times reported that India launched 104 tiny satellites into space from a single rocket. The world record will likely not stand for long.

ESA's debris chief said at a conference that In all of human history, about 7,000 spacecraft have left Earth. He pulled up a slide of 12,000 new satellites set to go up soon, announced by companies such as Samsung and SpaceX.

The majority of them are nano-satellites which are tiny, motorless machines that promise to revolutionize communications. Once in orbit, they fan out into wide constellations, outperforming their bulkier ancestors.

However, tiny satellites have big problems. Apart from them not navigating, they are launched in great numbers. They’re also not able to navigate. They thus travel through space long after they've stopped working and are thus more likely to collide with other things. The probability of space collisions has more than doubled with the tiny satellites in play.

SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/04/21/thousands-of-tiny-satellites-are-about-to-go-into-space-and-possibly-ruin-it-forever/

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