We are living on a medium-sized planet which is the third planet from the Sun. At just the right distance from the Sun, liquid water exists on the surface of this planet giving it a distinctive blue appearance from space. So far, this planet is the only one we knew to harbour life. This planet, we called it Earth and to many, home.
Ever since ancient times, people have been fascinated by outer space.
For a long time, people have been curious about the heavenly objects in the sky and had studied them thoroughly. Now, we have a detailed catalogue that has the information on stars, planets, asteroids and more. Besides studying objects that are already out there, people had also sent things made on Earth to outer space.
The most notable objects that we had put into outer space are different types of satellites such as communications satellite, remote sensing satellite, GPS satellite and more.
Besides satellites, we had also sent huge telescopes into space.
The only viable way to send objects into space right now is using a rocket. A major in sending objects into space is to overcome the gravitational pull of Earth. Therefore, rockets required a lot of fuel to escape Earth’s gravity. To enter orbit, rockets have to travel at a speed of at least 28000 km/h.
Putting satellites in space offers a lot of advantages to us especially in today’s world of wireless communications.
Satellites enable telecommunications between people in different parts of the world almost instantly. Satellites also enable navigation and provide us with GPS which is an indispensable tool in today’s society. On the other hand, telescopes in space enable us to study other planets and stars in greater detail due to the absence of atmosphere.
The biggest problem of putting man-made objects in space is the creation of space junk that can potentially stop space travels in the next few decades. There are more than 23,000 known man-made fragments that can be tracked orbiting Earth. However, there an estimated 500,000 pieces that cannot be tracked.
Space junk is pieces of metal floating in space. These pieces can come from rockets or satellites. These metals will stay floating in space and travel at great speed. They may hit a satellite or rocket producing more space debris. If space junk is not cleaned up, future space travels will be impossible as the low Earth orbit becomes too dangerous to enter. Moreover, other still functioning satellites can get destroyed by these objects causing major problems to our telecommunications systems on Earth.
Recently, reusable rockets have been tested to potentially replace conventional rockets to transport objects into space. Scientists have also started designing and testing devices such as harpoons and nets that can be used to remove space junk.
Reusable rockets can help because as you know when the rocket enters the orbit half of the rocket breaks off and becomes space junk. Now we can reuse these parts due to the parts that fall off having a parachute to glide down back to earth and extra fuel for a push back to earth. Humans are planning to send Debree remover satellites to space, once the satellite is in orbit it will launch a small cuboid containing the net then the box will open and the net will be released to capture a targeted piece of space debris. On the other hand, we also have the harpoon, the harpoon also will be sent to space inside a space satellite but instead of launching a net the harpoon is electronic meaning it can move around and catch space junk.
Although the net and harpoon have been tested and have been successful we can not guarantee that it will be safe.
Cleaning space junk is a major benefit because if we do not clean up space debris we could be trapped on Earth for decades because the debris could collide with rockets trying to enter orbit.
Besides that, cleaning up space junk could prevent the destruction of non-junk objects in space such as still functioning satellites. If the debris is not removed, it might hit other usable satellites causing major problems to our telecommunications system on Earth.
Cannot retrieve small sized junk. Because some pieces of space junk have dissolved or have broken into small pieces and since the net has holes and the harpoon might not be able to catch small pieces.
There is a danger of creating more space junk if some of the junk in space hits the body housing the net or harpoon or if the harpoon accidentally hits a satellite.
My opinion is that the net and harpoon are indeed viable methods in cleaning space junk especially those with big size. However, I think that scientists should also try finding other methods to remove space debris beside the net and harpoons. This is because there are much more space junks that are very small in size but are still very dangerous. Methods like nets and harpoon are useless in dealing with these kinds of debris as they too small to be retrieved. Instead, technology like lasers can be used to fire at these objects in order to vaporize them or push them back to Earth. Furthermore, technology like net and harpoon actually come into contact with the debris. Therefore, there is a danger of creating more space junk if the target to be caught ended hitting the body that houses the net or the harpoon and destroying it. Other methods like giant electromagnets might be the solution as the magnets never come into contact with the debris.