Space debris: Reasons, types, impacts and management

HABIMANA, Sylvestre ; PARAMA, RAMAKRISHNA V.R.

Abstract

Space debris consists of millions of pieces of man-made material orbiting the Earth at speeds of up to several km s-1. Although, the majority of these fragments result from the space activities of only three countries, viz. China, Russia, and the United States, yet pose a continuous threat to all assets in Earth’s orbit. Debris poses a growing threat to satellites and can prevent the use of valuable orbits in the future. Many pieces of debris are too small to monitor but too large to shield satellites against. Based on increase in space debris, certain measures have been taken to address this global issue. In particular, internationally adopted debris mitigation guidelines are reducing the introduction of new fragments into Earth’s orbit. However, there is a growing consensus within the space debris community that mitigation is insufficient to constrain the orbiting debris population. Also, ensuring a safe future for space activities will require the development and deployment of systems that actively remove debris from Earth’s orbit. In this context, efforts have been made to present the reasons and origin of space debris, their types and impact and the management strategies, which can be taken into consideration in preserving the near-Earth space environment from the impact of the junks in orbit.


Keyword(s)

Space debris;Debris management;Debris mitigation

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