By Allison Pumo
Space debris has been a growing issue over the years, gathering outside of planet Earth for years and years. Space debris is not only made of man-made objects. It is also made from natural objects as well, such as ice, rock, and dust. Examples of man-made objects can range from old parts of space machines like telescopes, probes, and other things that are used in space.
The dangerous thing about space debris is how rapidly the debris can multiply, as well as the speed it travels at. This causes the risk of collision and puts the people on the International Space Station and other space crafts at risk. Space debris can be so small, that it’s considered untrackable. Meanwhile, there are 500,000 pieces of space debris that are larger than a softball. (NASA).
Space debris can travel so quickly that almost no matter the size of it, it can dent a spacecraft. It generally travels at up to speeds of 17,500 mph. In order to avoid space debris of any kind, NASA has developed a new way to avoid space debris. Astronauts were told to imagine a giant pizza box around their spacecraft. The imaginary pizza box is about 30 miles long and 30 miles high, giving the spacecraft a large safe zone. Anything that comes in the pizza box is considered dangerous, and the astronauts need to act quickly to avoid it. (NASA).
Space debris has been an issue even before 1998, and scientists have been struggling to find out ways to expose it. Since space debris can also consist of ice, rock, and dust, scientists may be able to destroy space debris similarly to how they clear asteroids of Earth’s gravitational pull. Lasers, rockets, and gravity could all help move space debris out of Earth’s orbit. The problem with the high impact method is that if the space debris breaks, more debris is created. Lasers could potentially safely move the object, but it could also break it depending on what the object is made of, making it a hit or miss solution. The gravity solution is more of a safe solution, calmly guiding the object to a different location in space where it will not damage any spacecraft or probe. Eventually, better technology will most likely be invented which will be able to safely dispose of space debris.