In focus: Space Debris
What is space debris?
- Inactive satellites that have passed their functional life, leftovers from a rocket or other small fragments form space debris often called as space junk.
- The A-SAT missile tests that shoot down a satellite adds to the space debris in space.
Threat of space debris
- Space debris, even of sizes less than 1 cm, could collide with the operational satellites and render them dysfunctional.
- Due to lack of atmosphere the space debris in space remains for hundreds of year posing a perpetual threat to active satellites in space.
- According to estimates from European Space Agency, there are about 7,50,000 objects of size one cm or above in space.
- China was heavily criticized by the global community when it conducted the A-SAT missile test in 2007 in an 800-km orbit leaving space debris.
Defense of India
- India has justified its missile test saying that it chose the orbit above 300 km in order to reduce the impact of space debris.
- Further the number of satellites at such heights is few reducing the probability of a collision.
Law regulating space debris
- There is no binding international law regulating creation of space debris.
- In accordance with the Outer Space Treaty, 1967, parties should avoid activities that lead to harmful contamination and may affect the interests of other parties in space.
- Though India justifies its position by presenting calculations of decomposition of space debris, even a small risk of space debris could potentially destroy operational satellites and should be avoided in all circumstances.
Section : Science & Tech