ESA releases images of rocket upper stage breaking apart into orbit to decade after launch as top US military official warns space debris poses a serious threat to Earth
- At a hearing, General John Hyten said that the world should have a protocol in space
- One of the standards must be a restrictive and mitigating space waste
- Debris, or space waste, threatens future and current satellites and launches
- A solution is still being developed and can consist of nets, harpoons and lasers
- ESA footage shows more than 60 pieces of space waste from an old rocket
New recordings of debris from an upper floor of an Atlas V Centaur rocket hovering through space almost ten years after launch has brought to light the ever-increasing concern about space debris.
The European Space Agency today shared a look at the fragments captured by the Deimos Sky Survey last month, showing an estimated 40 to 60 pieces, each of which could be larger than one foot (30 cm).
It comes as one of the top military officials in the United States warned that one of the largest space-borne threats to Earth is actually the & # 39; clutter & # 39; may be the one that remains after human exploration.
During a recent hearing on a proposal by President Donald Trump to establish a so-called space force, General Hyten told military officials that a growing number of debris left behind to spin the earth should be an important priority for explorers with set their sites for future space travel.
Scroll down for video
A video made by the Deimos Sky Survey in Spain shows a stream of debris objects (bright circles through the middle) that rushed through the air at the end of last month, when a rocket discarded upper stage falls apart into orbit every ten years after launch
& # 39; I have long argued for the development of some international standard and behavior in space & # 39 ;, Hyten said as reported by CNBC.
& # 39; And where those standards and behaviors should start in my opinion, is debris. As the warring commander responsible for today's space, I don't want debris anymore. & # 39;
The threat of space debris has recently come to the fore, as scientists and countries around the world are starting to accelerate the launch of satellites and other orbitals that may be affected.
This week, according to a recent announcement from the European Space Agency, debris from the late phase of a rocket was captured on video and broken into pieces, giving scientists a rare glimpse into how debris is formed.
& # 39; This fragmentation event leaves a trail of debris and offers space waste experts a rare opportunity to test their understanding of such hugely important processes & # 39 ;, explains Tim Flohrer, ESA & # 39; s Senior Space Debris Monitoring Expert from.
The debris appears in the animation as clear white circles, as shown above. The white stripes around it are stars
The researchers hope to use the event to model how space debris works in the Earth's orbit.
Another recent test from India of an anti-satellite missile, NASA, criticized the country's exercise for creating hundreds of new pieces of space debris threatening to damage the International Space Station.
A similar test from China in 2007 created 3,000 new pieces of space waste alone.
Scientists have warned that a growing number of rubble can have a series of adverse effects on future space missions.
There are already more than 12,000 pieces of space debris that are currently in orbit around the Earth and are likely to collide with major satellites or interfere with spacecraft launches and landings.
Although the problem is well documented, a solution is less needed.
The US has left most space waste, followed by Russia and China.
Some proposals related to catching debris with a net and then dragging the rubbish into the earth's atmosphere, where it will burn, others have a more abrupt approach to harpooning rubbish and transferring it.
In a more high-tech solution, objects would be irradiated with a laser until it has essentially evaporated.
Whatever the solution, researchers say that softening the veil on the Earth from space debris is likely to be an international effort.
The recent video observation of rocket waste saw the cooperation of various countries, including Spain, Russia and Switzerland, in what they hope will set an international standard.
WHAT IS SPACE JUNK?
There are an estimated 170 million pieces of so-called & # 39; space waste & # 39; – abandoned after missions that can be as large as spent rocket stages or as small as paint flakes – in orbit next to a $ 700 billion space infrastructure.
But only 22,000 are tracked, and with fragments capable of traveling at speeds above 27,000 km (16,777 km / h), even small pieces of satellites can be seriously damaged or destroyed.
However, traditional gripping methods do not work in the room because suction cups do not work in a vacuum and temperatures are too cold for substances such as tape and glue.
Magnet-based grabs are useless because most particles in the orbit around the earth are not magnetic.
About 500,000 pieces of man-made debris (artist's # 39; s impression) are currently circling around our planet, consisting of discarded satellites, scraps of spaceship and spent rockets
Most proposed solutions, including rubble harpones, require or cause a powerful interaction with the rubble that could push these objects in unintended, unpredictable directions.
Scientists point to two events that have greatly aggravated the problem of space debris.
The first was in February 2009, when an Iridium telesom satellite and Kosmos 2251, a Russian military satellite, accidentally collided.
The second was in January 2007, when China tested an anti-satellite weapon on an old Fengyun weather satellite.
Experts also pointed to two sites that have become worryingly messy.
One is a low orbit around the earth used by satnav satellites, the ISS, the manned missions in China and the Hubble telescope, among others.
The other is in a geostationary orbit and is used by communication, weather and surveillance satellites that must maintain a fixed position relative to the earth.