Space: Incredible animation shows space debris orbiting earth
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Light pollution from major cities is the reason why observatories are usually situated away from major metropolitan areas. However, there is now so much satellite congestion in space that nowhere will soon be safe from light pollution, a study has found.
Researchers from a plethora of institutes in the US and Europe found there are now more than 9,300 tons (8,440 metric tons) of space objects orbiting Earth.
This includes both functioning and defunct satellites, as well as pieces of old rockets.
The study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters found that the number of object orbiting Earth could increase the brightness of the night’s sky by more than 10 percent above natural levels.
Miroslav Kocifaj of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Comenius University in Slovakia, who led the study, said: “Our primary motivation was to estimate the potential contribution to night sky brightness from external sources, such as space objects in Earth’s orbit.
“We expected the sky brightness increase would be marginal, if any, but our first theoretical estimates have proved extremely surprising and thus encouraged us to report our results promptly.”
According to the team, satellites and space junk ruin views of the cosmos by scattering reflected sunlight.
This can produce bright streaks which are indistinguishable from bodies such as stars.
The team stated this effect is most profound when they look at the Universe using low-resolution detectors, such as the human eye.
Study co-author John Barentine, director of public policy for the International Dark-Sky Association, said: “Unlike ground-based light pollution, this kind of artificial light in the night sky can be seen across a large part of the Earth’s surface.
“Astronomers build observatories far from city lights to seek dark skies, but this form of light pollution has a much larger geographical reach.”
The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a £75million ($102million) deal with Swiss-start up firm ClearSpace SA to bring a huge piece of space junk down from orbit which posed a threat to satellite technology to demonstrate space-clearing technology.
The object in question is a 112 kilogram Vespa – a payload adaptor which was used to release a satellite into space in 2013.
The ESA and ClearSpace SA plan to launch in 2025.
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ESA said in a statement: “The ClearSpace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter).
“This object was left in an approximately 801 km by 664 km-altitude gradual disposal orbit, complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega back in 2013.
“In almost 60 years of space activities, more than 5550 launches have resulted in some 42 000 tracked objects in orbit, of which about 23 000 remain in space and are regularly tracked.
“With today’s annual launch rates averaging nearly 100, and with break-ups continuing to occur at average historical rates of four to five per year, the number of debris objects in space will steadily increase.
“ClearSpace-1 will demonstrate the technical ability and commercial capacity to significantly enhance the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.”South Africa or in the UK in fall 2020, will display similar seasonal patterns of infection.”
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