Scientists are calling for the protection of the space environment


Scientists are calling for the introduction of environmental protection into space to take into account the increasing number of satellite launches. As more satellites launch the problem space debris getting worse and worse, and warned scientists this can have long-term implications for both research and the well-being of people on the ground.

The European Space Agency (ESA) also recently published a space debris report, mentioning that the increasing number of satellite launches, especially low-orbit satellite constellations such as StarXink from SpaceX, is creating an unsustainable impact on the space environment. According to ESA, more than 30,000 pieces of space debris have been recorded in orbit around our planet, and according to models, there may be more than a million objects larger than 1 centimeter.

In an article in the journal Nature Astronomy, a group of researchers warned that the accumulation of debris in orbit, such as satellites that are no longer working or discarded rocket boosters, would affect a wide range of fields. As well as satellites interfering with astronomy research, increasing amounts of debris will interfere with what they call “public access to the stars” – the right of ordinary people to look up and see the unpolluted night sky. This applies to both amateur astronomers, many indigenous groups for whom the night sky is an important part of their culture, and anyone who just wants to enjoy the sight of stars at altitude.

One of the major problems of space debris is that without serious action soon the problem will worsen due to collisions. When two satellites collide, they create thousands of pieces of debris that are smeared on their orbits – and this debris can cause even more collisions. The ultimate danger is that we may be affected by “Kessler syndrome,” in which there is so much debris in orbit that cascading collisions make it difficult or even impossible to launch any further space missions.

Researchers argue that we need to view space through the same prism of ecology that we use for the Earth, and take steps to protect it. “We rely on the environment of the orbital space, viewing it, as well as working in it,” – they write. “Therefore, we must take into account the damage to professional astronomy, public observation of the stars and the cultural importance of the sky, as well as the sustainability of commercial, civilian and military activities in space.”

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Scientists are calling for the protection of the space environment

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