Small debris orbiting Earth pose threats to space assets

Small debris orbiting Earth pose threats to space assets

Why in news :

  • On March 7, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully carried out a controlled re-entry for the decommissioned Megha-Tropiques-1 (MT1).
  • The satellite, launched more than a decade ago, was designed to study clouds in the tropical regions of the world.
  • It was expected to make a final impact in the Pacific Ocean.
  • ISRO said the satellite was brought down as a part of its commitment to reduce space debris, especially in the much-crowded Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

Orbital debris :

  • Space debris (also known as space junkspace pollution, space waste, space trash, space garbage, or cosmic debris) are defunct human-made objects in space principally in Earth orbit which no longer serve a useful function.
  • These include derelict spacecraft non-functional spacecraft and abandoned launch vehicle stages mission-related debris, and particularly numerous in Earth orbit, fragmentation debris from the breakup of derelict rocket bodies and spacecraft.
  • Space debris is typically a negative externality it creates an external cost on others from the initial action to launch or use a spacecraft in near-Earth orbit.
  • As of November 2022, the US Space Surveillance Network reported 25,857 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth including 5,465 operational satellites.

  • The surging number of rocket launches and the increasing number of payloads carried in recent years have made the space junk problem acute, especially after private companies such as SpaceX launched thousands of satellites to provide Internet access.
  • In 2022, over 2,160 objects were launched into space, about 300 more than 2021 and 900 more than 2020.

Syllabus : Prelims + Mains; GS3- Science and Technology

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