SPACE JUNK (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     2nd July 2024        

Context: Space junk is becoming a significant issue, threatening both space exploration and human safety worldwide.

Space Junk

  • About: It is any piece of machinery or debris left by humans in space.
  • Also known as: Space Debris
  • Kessler Syndrome: It is a theoretical scenario in which a cascade of collisions between artificial objects in low Earth orbit leads to a rapidly increasing amount of space debris, making the use of near-Earth space impossible for an extended period of time.
  • Dangers of Space Junk
  • High Speed Impact: Debris can travel at speeds of up to 18,000 mph, posing a serious threat to satellites and spacecraft.
  • Real-world Impact: The International Space Station has been damaged by relatively small pieces of debris, endangering crew and equipment.
  • International Agreements on Space Debris

oSpace Liability Convention: Defines liability for damage caused by space objects.

oZero Debris Charter: Aims for debris neutrality in space by 2030, signed by twelve nations and the European Space Agency.

Initiatives related to Space debris

  • Space Liability Convention (1972): The treaty says that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in space.
  • JAXA (Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency) initiative: JAXA and Astroscale are undertaking a 6-month demonstration project for the first-ever space debris removal mission.
  • Clearspace-1 (European Space Agency): which is scheduled to launch in 2025, will be the first space mission to eliminate debris from orbit.
  • Clean Space Initiative: To preserve the sustainability of the space environment for future generations.
  • ISRO System for Safe & Sustainable Operations Management (IS4OM): To ensure safety and sustainability while maximizing the advantages of utilizing outer space sustainably for national development.
  • Project NETRA: is an initiative by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which is an early warning system in space to detect debris and hazards to the Indian satellites.
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