'Threat of Space debris looms large'

Speaking about Space debris and its management at the “Pollutetech India 2010” expo in the City on Saturday, Prof V Adimurthy of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said, space research institutes across the world have come together to mitigate the problem of Space debris.

Apart from the problem of disposal, scientists are worried about the long-term evolution of Space debris. According to the Inter-agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (ISDCC) in which Prof Adimurthy is the Indian representative, over 15,000 types of debris have been identified through regular monitoring amounting to 2,500 tonnes.

“Even if we exclude debris that have decayed due to atmospheric pressure or solar radiation, there is still a lot more,” he said.

About 45 per cent of the debris categorised are fragments of satellites. There have been about 170 recorded explosions of satellites, he added.

Owing to this, many of the operational satellites are at the risk of being severely damaged by debris and thereby causing disruption of services.

But why should we be worried about debris floating in the space? When an explosion occurs, the debris move together but over a period of time they begin to spread in the orbit, form a ring and become a natural background noise around the Earth.

Prof Adimurthy said that sometimes the debris may fall on the Earth causing loss of life and property. Till now, around 100 huge objects have been collected from the Earth, which have however not caused any damages.

On the long-term effects of Space debris he said "Research by scientists predict that inaction about disposing of the Space debris would lead to a cascading effect. However, it is a very expensive proposition."

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