Traffic Jam In Space

It was the early hours of July 30 ISRO was gearing up for a launch that is India’s Space Agency for those who are unaware the Indian Space research organization of ISRO they were launching the pslv polar satellite launch vehicle often know as India’s Workhorse rocket the launch was scheduled for 6 30 am but it was delayed by a minute do you know whay because there was a traffic jam in space not making this up and if you are someone who cribs about traffic at every party there is a new conversation sstarter for you a traffic jam in space how did it happen how the cosmos get so crowded thanks to us humans we have been exploring space for quite some time now more than 70 years and frankly we have made quite a mess we sent hundreds of satellites out there some are active most stopped functioning but what are we doing about it well absolutely nothing and this has become a hge issue humans have created tons of space debris but when it comes to cleaning up we know where to be seen so what Exactly is space junk how much of it is out there how does it pose a risk to us and why shold you care?

The Space Age began in the 1950s humans wanted to explore the next drill we sent hundreds of rockets up there more importantly we send thousands of satellites these satellites are aboslutely crucial for our daily functioning for internet for GPS for military surveillance for weather mapping for disaster planning we need these satellites but what happens when they stop working we just leave them there Houston we have a problem you see countries we are all racing to set up satellites but no one thought about cleaning up because surely the great thing about space is that there is so much space well there is the universe is vast and expensive but the orbit near the earth is not and currenlty it is crowded it looks like a galactic dump yard there are funtioning satellites space stations and dead and defunct space junk floating away how did this come to pass it’s because of a boom in space explorating 2022 was a momentous year we broke all records for space launchers more than 2 000 spacecraft went into orbit and they had to dodge quite a lot you see the outer space is brimming with junk thousands of dead satellites are moving at high speed and collissions are a huge threat when satellites orbit the earth they are doing it at a speed of 20 000 kilometers per hour so even if a loose crew hits a rocket it means disster and how much space junk is out there well as of today more thatn 2 000 actives satellites are orbiting the Earth plus three thousands dead ones so that is 5 000 satellites then more than 34 000 pieces of space junk that is anything bigger than 10 centimeters beigger as for other smaller pieces there are million it is hard to track them put together that is a lot of space junk how did we create it well here is how it works you launch an object from the earth it remian in orbit until it re enters the atmosphere i released at a lower orbit say a few thousand kilometers from the earth it can return to the atmospehre if a few year swhen that happens the object burns up in most cases it does not even reach the ground it is exhausted on its way down so you do not have to worry about being hit by a piece of rocket but what about satellites that are left at higehr altitudes say around 36 000 kilometers they won’t come down they will continure to crirl the earth ofr eyears may be thousands of years long after all of us are dead and this makes space junk some of the debris also come from collisions or anti-satellites tests it’s rare that it happens some countries like the U.S China and even India use missiles to blow up satellites.

The result is this thousands of new pieces of dangerous debris floating around in space how big a risk do they pose satellites in orbit must negotiate them they must move out of the way or be hit by random pieces of space junk in fact hundreads of such madeuvers are preformed every year it is called collision avoidance the international space station does it and countries do it individually fortunately for us collisions have been rare until now there are very few instaces like in 2021 when a Chinese satellite broke up or in 2009 when a satellite was destroyed by space junk but in the year sahead such cases are expected to rise by 2030 90 countries will be operating in space an estimated 17 0000 satellites will be up there so it’s a going to get mroe crowded and how will that look a NASA scientist predicted it in 1978 his name was Donald Kessler he said if there was too much space junk it would create a chain reaction basicalley more and more objects would collides they would create more debris and that in turn would collid with more objects basically we reach a point where the Earth’s orbit would become unusable of course this is the worst case scenario it is extreme prediction but scientists worry that there will be problems so the questions is what can we do to fix this how can we avoid a dangerous collision in space

The first solution is monitoring there are a lot of private companies that monitor junk they give real-time dates on where it is headed you track this data and you avoid a collision it sounds easy but it is not you see space junk is unpredictable it may be going down one path but you never know when it changes track so monitoring will never be 100 percent accurate.


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