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THE PROBLEMS AND EFFECTS OF SPACE POLLUTION

INTRODUCTION

Space Pollution is commonly known as Space Debris which in simple language refers to the leftover machinery or else the failed satellite as well as the ones which are not of any further use. In other words, Space debris is composed of a variety of artificial debris such as abandoned satellites, detached launch vehicle stages, solid and liquid materials escaped from the space shuttle, even tiny paint spots. It can likewise allude to more modest things, similar to pieces of flotsam and jetsam or the objects that have tumbled off a rocket. What’s more threatening is, the number simply rises at a faster rate and they vanish much more slowly than expected. Pollution can be further divided into two kinds which are as follows:

  1. NATURAL: This is the type of waste that is generated naturally and comprises the things like micrometeoroids.
  2. MAN-MADE: Whereas Manmade pollution is the one where the waste is generated by the humans and comprises of the objects like the leftover machinery or else the failed satellites or the detached items.

But here the pollution indicated generally talks about the on which is produced by humans and turns out to be a great threat to the environment. If we talk about the source of the junk then we can say that one of the most common sources  of it is  Fragmentation.

EFFECTS AND PROBLEMS

The trash present in space can turn out to be severely dangerous for the working spacecraft and the satellites. Also, the scientist has even proposed a theory that if things will go this way only the day is not so far when the risk of collision is at its peak and the orbit of our Earth will turn out to be impassable. This only means that the junk or debris will start to crash out with other objects which can also be the active satellites and even the inactive ones and the consequences of the same would almost become irreversible as it will create more junk out the great collision and will create a blockage for the orbit. Also, there is a great amount of threat due to the pollution caused by the fumes and gases and the dust emerged while the process of exhausting of a rocket.

The space junk can even hamper the observation which is the main objective of carrying out these launchings. To reduce the emerging and growing debris we first need to lessen it and then have to figure out ways to deal with the one which is already present. The junk is a big hassle and we need to address it in that manner itself otherwise the consequences would be so severe that it will become almost impossible to handle. Now only the situation is pushed to the extent that the satellites often have to change the orbit to maintain the clear passage in to ignore the collision. As mentioned earlier that the collisions will become unstoppable if not treated in the manner they actually should be treated and the scenario would turn out to be a great nightmare as the shards of metals can even begin to hamper the important satellite which will result in a great amount of junk and will cause more pollution and this is referred as “Kessler syndrome” which is named after NASA astrophysicist Donald Kessler who was the very first person to discover this in 1978. The world is thankful that the prediction of the chain reaction hasn’t arisen yet. There have already been enough warnings as if we take a look at the collision of 2009 amongst the two major satellites of USA and RUSSIA which resulted in almost thousands of extra metal chunks into the space atmosphere. These explosions set out the example of the dark future if things went this way and nobody took any action against this very serious problem.[1]

THE LEGAL STRUCTURE FOR SPACE DEBRIS

To regulate the legal working in outer space then we have various Treaties which deal with the working of outer space but the ones that particularly deal with the debris is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, 1968 Rescue Agreement and, 1972 Liability Convention. A set of rules and regulations have been adopted by various countries under these treaties to deal with the upcoming problems in space and especially preventing them from our ends.

Talking about the Outer Space Treaty then it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is considered to be the core “Constitution” for space because it comprises of the various rules and regulations for basic to complex to working in space. The best part of the treaty is that it is applicable to the signatories states as well as the non-signatories states which keeps a restricting order upon all the countries from hampering it. 

REMEDIES

If we look at the remedial measure of this very serious issue and to reduce the chances of major collisions in space there is a strict need of invention of such devices which turn out to be strong enough to catalog and sense the unnecessary tiny objects which contribute to debris in space. One of the greatest manners in which the debris can be reduced to a great extent is the future spacecraft should be designed in such a manner that there should be minimum or no amount of debris generated out of it These guidelines could be implemented at international level and the spacecraft which fails to follow them can be restricted which will help in restricting further debris.

The above-mentioned strategies require research and implication which makes them cost-effective and hence the work could be done when various nations can contribute equally towards them and work upon them together rather than individually.[2]

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

  1. The spacecraft and satellites can be designed in such a manner that there is the least chance of exploding.
  2. Nextly designing them in such a way that there is no emission of solar radiation and almost no amount of separation procedure will ultimately lessen the junk.
  3. There should be proper allocation of the junk which can be identified to particular countries who generated it and ask them to get rid of it.

CONCLUSION

The Debris present in the space is a serious and emerging problem for all and should be addressed accordingly with the amount of seriousness which it demands from us.  The amount of orbital debris being produced every year at the multitude of the orbit is a threat for future space operation as it is getting accumulated which will result in a collision with spacecraft and ultimately future of space operations might possess suffer from loss of capability, income and even loss of life. Therefore there is a strict need to take preventive measures in order to prevent more debris in space and application of remedies with proper supervision therefore we can get rid of the existing junk. 

Author(s) Name: Kratika Pachouri (Bennett University, Greater Noida)

References:

[1]Louis Matignon, ‘The Kessler Syndrome And Space Debris – Space Legal Issues’ (Space Legal Issues, 2021) <https://www.spacelegalissues.com/space-law-the-kessler-syndrome/> accessed 31 August 2021.

[2]‘ARES | Orbital Debris Program Office’ (Orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov, 2021) <https://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/> accessed 31 August 2021.

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