/CORE – Conservation of Resources and Environment

CORE – Conservation of Resources and Environment

In continuation to my previous article on space exploration, here are a few more points that need to be stressed upon. Space pollution is increasing every day, and the following facts serve to prove this:

  • As of 2020, the 2200 operational satellites orbiting the earth were increased to 34000 pieces of junk larger than 10cm in diameter, 900000 pieces of junk from 1cm to 10 cm and over 128000000 space debris below 1 cm. The total mass of this debris is approximately 7 million kgs.
  • Various anti-satellite missiles by the United States of America, Russia, China and India have also joined this debris in space.
  • As mentioned previously, NASA astronomer Bill Gray has warned how the remains of an old SpaceX rocket will crash onto the dark side of the moon on March 4th. Apart from this, there is evidence of materials including 54 probes and 190000 kilograms of leftover material that have either crashed or been left on the moon by humans.
  • Currently, there are 20,000 pieces of debris in space that are being monitored and tracked. These revolve around the earth at a speed of over 24,000 km/h and pose a great threat to the whole universe. Even though scientists and astronomers know their movements, we don’t know what can happen if they malfunction since they have been discarded and there’s not much focus on them.
  • Just 2 days back, a geomagnetic storm hit space and destroyed 40 out of the recently launched 49 SpaceX Starlink satellites. All this undoubtedly causes pollution beyond the earth’s boundaries.

Taking action on this front right now is of utmost importance. SpaceX has taken an innovative step towards this by making reusable rockets. Despite several setbacks initially, they stayed determined to make this dream happen and finally succeeded. It is marvellous to see rockets land back on earth, instead of burning up or orbiting aimlessly in space, after completing their missions. Measures like these, by visionaries, will help keep space clean.

Apart from this, there must be strict laws that control how many rockets/satellites are being launched per year to reduce space debris, pollution and traffic since their natural decay can take up to 100s of years.

Many other space agencies and even private companies have come up with various plans that can help reduce space pollution. One of the most interesting plans, according to me, is called Laser Broom which includes sending a new, empty satellite into space to collect this space debris. This has a huge advantage since space materials brought back to the Earth successfully can be re-used rather than being discarded. However, one of the main drawbacks of this plan is that it will take lots of funds to build such an empty satellite/space shuttle. So, even in space, I’d say, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’

Written by Anaiya Giare (MYP 2A)