Learn about the effects of space debris on the future of space missions. Also learn about the environmental effects of space junk.
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The Effect of Space Debris Mankind has been launching satellites into earth’s orbit for over 50 years. Thousands of these manmade objects are orbiting the earth and most stayed there for decades. Only a few are still in use, the rest are space junk. The problem of space debris is the result of the lack of weight as during earlier phases of space exploration. In the 1980s, several hundred satellites were put into orbit each year mostly as spy satellites. Each mission made more junks stay in orbit such as the upper stages of rockets. There’s even the outer glove from a space suit lost by astronaut Edward White during the first American space walk. Space debris or micrometeorites sometimes crash into old fuel tanks or batteries orbiting earth. This can cause explosions creating clouds of new space debris with innumerable tiny bits and pieces. Since the beginning of the space age, there have been almost 200 explosions in orbit many involving old rocket bodies. Because space debris is traveling so fast even small pieces can cause big damage. Space debris is not unaesthetic or environmental problem, if the debris increases further, there is danger that further space exploration could suffer. Protecting future missions from high speed junk is being taken seriously. The European space agency has hosted a conference in Germany on this issue. Hundreds of leading space scientists attended to discuss the scale of the problem and what can be done to keep earth’s orbit safe for spacecraft.