Orbits are starting to get congested – space debris is already a big problem
Space debris – Space needs to be cleaned up so that space is available to future generations.
For years, satellites, and basically everything that has been launched above the atmosphere, have been sent on a journey without thinking very much about what happens when they are no longer useful. Now our planet is already orbiting 18,000 man-made objects, of which only 1,500 are operational satellites. And you can’t easily get them down from there.
What should be done for useless travelers?
Space debris – Space is a road
Space debris is a practical problem in many ways. According to Jaan Praks, Assistant Professor at Aalto University, the basic principle is clear: if we send something into space, we must also bring it back at some point.
“Space is a bit like a high-speed road – and where vehicles left on the road can cause big problems.”
Space debris increases the risk of collisions and can even block routes. At least the orbital congestion is not easing, as more and more countries, companies and individuals are planning to join the space business and take advantage of the great opportunities offered by space. The hardest part is creating global rules – all when you don’t care about cleaning.
In 2018, about 400 satellites were launched into space, and it is projected that by 2022, 1,000 more will be sent. Satellites are needed to give us information about our changing planet, to enable communication over long distances between more and more people and devices, and to help navigate cars and planes.
” The more infrastructure there is in space, the better global services it will enable.”
Assistant Professor Jaan Praks
“The more infrastructure there is in space, the better global services it will enable. We can access the internet even in the middle of the ocean and manage various resources better because we get up-to-date information about what is happening on earth, ”says Praks.
For researchers, this means more information and better solutions; new business opportunities for the industry.
“We have more and more reasons to go into space, and one day we may visit other planets as well,” Praks believes.
Cleaning technology is missing
Space debris – According to Jaan Praks, one thing is certain: if cleaning up clutter is not made mandatory, it will not be cleaned up very much. The litter-free nature of space routes requires a global focus.
However, the real problem may be technology – or lack thereof. There is as yet no well-functioning method for capturing fast-moving space debris. The problem will be solved at the Center of Excellence in Sustainable Space Science and Technology, which will, among other things, develop a safe way to remove satellites from orbit. At the end of the mission, the charged sails of the electric sail act as plasma brakes that bring the satellite into a controlled atmosphere where it returns to reindeer.
“Sustainable use of space is still a completely new concept for many people,” says Praks.
“Clean space is needed for the future of our species. Space provides the keys to solving global problems and enables future voyages of discovery. For that to happen, we need to act responsibly now. ”
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