I recently interviewed a French astrophysicist about space exploration and its excesses. The expert mentioned many important events that particularly contributed to the proliferation of space waste for more than half a century.
Very alarming numbers regarding space junk
Fatoumata Kibe, 38, is a French astrophysicist Specializing in the study of space debris. Trained at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris and a member of the International Astronomical Union, the scientist spoke at length in an article published by the magazine geographic On December 17, 2023.
While the issue of climate and the environment on Earth appears very regularly in the media (most recently during COP 28), the issue of space pollution remains largely in the background. For fatumata kebi, humans It will repeat the same mistakes in space than on our planet.
During this interview, several important figures were mentioned. About the Earth is 2,250 satellites are no longer operational36,500 pieces of debris are larger than 10 cm, 1 million pieces of debris are between 1 and 10 cm in size, and 130 million pieces of debris are between 1 mm and 1 cm in size. Moreover, of the 8,800 satellites currently in orbit, approx A quarter of a wreck.
Excessive risk of collision and pollution
An astrophysicist told a story One of the largest pieces of space junk : the Envisat Earth observation satellite. With a mass of eight tons, the machine that the European Space Agency (ESA) put into orbit in 2002 has shown no sign of life since 2012. Although the real cause of this loss of communication has not been determined, it is possible that it was a satellite Himself Contacted space debris.
The most polluted area is low Earth orbit At an altitude ranging between 120 and 2000 km. However, the risk of collision is greater in this area due to crowding and also due to the speed of the waste, which may reach 7 or 8 km/s. Fatoumata Kebbi specifically pointed to the risks to the International Space Station (ISS) or the 2009 collision between a drifting Russian satellite and the US Iridium 33 satellite, which generated an additional 2,000 pieces of space junk. The truth is Each collision creates new debrisThis increases the risk of new collisions and thus fuels a real vicious circle.
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