With a mysterious space object making a splash into the Earth’s atmosphere on November 13, Nasa administrator Charles Bolden has shown concern about the growing junk in the space that may threaten the planet in near future. Dubbed WT1190F, the unknown object – either a spent rocket stage, a paneling shed or a piece of debris dating back to the Apollo missions – was predicted to make a splashdown in the Indian Ocean about 100 km off the coast of Sri Lanka
But it was unclear if the object actually landed.
According to Bolden, it is the right time to clean up space crowded with all kinds of objects – from nonfunctional spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicle stages, mission-related debris and fragmentation debris, oxnews.com reported.
“Not a lot of countries are putting money into debris removal development and more of us need to,” he was quoted as saying.
Nasa has estimated roughly 500,000 pieces of space junk and there may be more than 100 million tiny fragments.
Earlier, a large space rock zipped past the Earth on Halloween on October 31 that was most likely a dead comet that fittingly bears an eerie resemblance to a skull.
Scientists observing asteroid named 2015 TB145 determined that the celestial object was more than likely a dead comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the Sun, Nasa had said in a statement.
The belated comet has also been observed by optical and radar observatories around the world, providing even more data, including our first close-up views of its surface.
Asteroid 2015 TB145 safely flew by our planet at just under 1.3 lunar distances, or about 486,000 km, on Halloween.
The next time the asteroid will be in Earth’s neighbourhood will be in September 2018, when it will make a distant pass at about 38 million km or about a quarter the distance between Earth and the sun.
Space Junk WT1190F (WTF) Hit the Atmosphere Friday the 13th
WT1190F crashed into Earth’s atmosphere early today – Friday, November 13, at about 06: 18 GMT over the southern coast of Sri Lanka – at an estimated velocity of 24,600 miles per hour or 11 km/s. Most of WT1190F reportedly burned up in the upper atmosphere and astronomers do not expect that any significant and identifiable piece of the space object would survive the plunge through the atmosphere. Measuring 3 to 6 feet, the… According to the agency, they then realized it had been spotted before, in 2013, by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona.
Scientists have said that a mysterious piece of space debris that was said to be streaking towards Earth about a month ago swattered in the Indian Ocean on 13th October morning, said.
The organization used Friday’s innocuous space debris as a trial run of such observations to prepare for when a more unsafe space object shows up. Scientists are hoping the footage of the debris break up will provide information on how objects interact with the Earth’s atmosphere. In just this past week, in fact, three unexpected pieces of space trash have crashed down in the southeast of Spain. For the airborne research team, and observers on the ground if the weather is clear, scientists expect the falling object to produce a bright fireball that should be visible even in daytime.
With a density ten percent that of water, WT1190F is pushed around in space more easily than denser objects.
We know this because it is by no means the first human-made object to fall from orbit, nor is it the largest. It had originally been orbiting the Earth from beyond the moon, when that orbit degraded. They were flying over the thick clouds covering the Sri Lanka coast and were able to get a few pretty awesome shots of WT1190F as it came in. Most of the objects that do land end up in an ocean, since oceans make up most of the Earth’s surface.
Slooh’s broadcast will feature Slooh host Paul Cox and impact specialist Dr. Mark Boslough who will discuss the importance of WT1190F.
The ESA’s NEOCC has identified WT1190F as a valuable opportunity for scientists.
What is Space Debris?
pace debris, also known as orbital debris, space junk and space waste, is the collection of manmade defunct objects in orbit around Earth. This includes spent rocket stages, old satellites and fragments from disintegration, erosion and collisions. Since orbits overlap with new spacecraft, debris may collide with operational spacecraft.
As of 2009 about 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 5 cm (2 in) are tracked, while an estimated 300,000 pieces larger than 1 cm exist below 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi). For comparison, the International Space Station orbits in the 300–400 kilometres (190–250 mi) range and the 2009 satellite collision and 2007 antisat test events occurred at from 800 to 900 kilometres (500 to 560 mi).
Most space debris is smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), including dust from solid rocket motors, surface-degradation products (such as paint flakes) and frozen coolant droplets released from RORSAT nuclear-powered satellites. Impacts by these particles cause erosive damage, similar to sandblasting, which can be reduced by the addition of ballistic shielding (such as a Whipple shield, used to protect parts of the International Space Station) to a spacecraft. Not all parts of a spacecraft can be protected in this manner; solar panels and optical devices such as telescopes or star trackers are subject to constant wear from debris and micrometeoroids. Below 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi), the flux from space debris is greater than that from meteoroids.Decreasing risk from space debris larger than 10 cm (4 in) is often obtained by maneuvering a spacecraft to avoid a collision. If a collision occurs, the resulting fragments can become an additional collision risk.
Since the chance of collision is influenced by the number of objects in space, there is a critical density where the creation of new debris is theorized to occur faster than natural forces remove them. Beyond this point a runaway chain reaction (known as the Kessler syndrome) may occur, rapidly increasing the amount of debris in orbit and the risk to operational satellites. Whether the critical density has been reached in certain orbital bands is a subject of debate. A Kessler syndrome would render a portion of useful polar-orbiting bands difficult to use, increasing the cost of space missions. The measurement, growth mitigation and potential removal of space debris are conducted by the space industry.
During the 1980s, NASA and other U.S. groups attempted to limit the growth of debris. One effective solution was implemented by McDonnell Douglas on the Delta booster, by having the booster move away from its payload and vent any propellant remaining in its tanks. This eliminated the pressure buildup in the tanks which caused them to explode in the past. Other countries were slower to adopt this measure and, due especially to a number of launches by the Soviet Union, the problem grew throughout the decade.
A new battery of studies followed as NASA, NORAD and others attempted to better understand the orbital environment, with each adjusting the number of pieces of debris in the critical-mass zone upward. Although in 1981 (when Schefter’s article was published) the number of objects was estimated at 5,000, new detectors in the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system found new objects. By the late 1990s, it was thought that most of the 28,000 launched objects had already decayed and about 8,500 remained in orbit.By 2005 this was adjusted upward to 13,000 objects, and a 2006 study increased the number to 19,000 as a result of an ASAT test and a satellite collision. In 2011, NASA said that 22,000 objects were being tracked.
The growth in the number of objects as a result of the late-1990s studies sparked debate in the space community on the nature of the problem and the earlier dire warnings. According to Kessler’s 1991 derivation and 2001 updates, the LEO environment in the 1,000 km (620 mi) altitude range should be cascading. However, only one major incident has occurred: the 2009 satellite collision between Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251. The lack of obvious short-term cascading has led to speculation that the original estimates overstated the problem.According to Kessler a cascade would not be obvious until it was well advanced, which might take years.
A 2006 NASA model suggested that if no new launches took place the environment would retain the then-known population until about 2055, when it would increase on its own. Richard Crowther of Britain’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency said in 2002 that he believed the cascade would begin about 2015. The National Academy of Sciences, summarizing the professional view, noted widespread agreement that two bands of LEO space—900 to 1,000 km (620 mi) and 1,500 km (930 mi)—were already past critical density.
In the 2009 European Air and Space Conference, University of Southampton researcher Hugh Lewis predicted that the threat from space debris would rise 50 percent in the next decade and quadruple in the next 50 years. As of 2009, more than 13,000 close calls were tracked weekly.
A 2011 report by the U.S. National Research Council warned NASA that the amount of orbiting space debris was at a critical level. According to some computer models, the amount of space debris “has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures”. The report called for international regulations limiting debris and research of disposal methods.