Space debris: DISASTER in the making; NASA shows year-by-year timeline (NASA)

Space debris is the term used to describe defunct human-made objects present in the orbit around the Earth high up in the sky. Shockingly, over the years, it has covered the region of our planet almost entirely! (NASA)

Space debris generally includes defunct satellites, various launch vehicle stages, and fragments of rockets and other man-made waste. (NASA)

This space debris gets held in place in the Earth’s atmosphere and it revolves around along with our planet. (NASA)

But the debris poses a big threat to future space missions. If a large debris collides with a spacecraft launching into space or during reentry, it can have catastrophic results. (NASA)

The images here highlight how scary the situation is. However, this is not even the full extent of the problem. The NASA ORDEM 3.2 model has only showcased debris which are larger than 10 cm in diameter. Many more smaller debris particles also exist. (NASA)

NASA realized this problem first in 1995 and issued a comprehensive set of orbital debris mitigation guidelines to reduce space debris. (NASA)

 However, just mitigation is not enough. A NASA study has shown that even if no future launches occurred, collisions between existing satellites would increase the 10-cm and larger debris population faster than atmospheric drag would remove objects. (NASA)

So, a new strategy called Active Debris Removal (ADR) is being formulated by NASA. It will focus on removing  large debris bodies such as intact rockets from space. (NASA)

According to NASA study, these massive objects are the long-term source of fragmentation debris from on-orbit explosions and collisions. (NASA)

And removal of as few as five of the highest risk objects per year can stabilize the long-term low Earth orbit debris environment. (NASA)

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