Spacejunk is by far one of the top things astronauts have to keep an eye out for in space exploration and astronomy. The International Space Station (ISS) had to dodge “dangerous space junk” this week.
The problem with space junk
Space debris is created from humanity’s activities in space that leaves traces of technology floating about. These traces are from satellites and spaceships as well as collisions with other technology in space.
According to Aerospace.org, the danger of space debris is the speed at which it travels.
“In low-Earth orbit (altitudes lower than 2 000 km), with an average impact velocity of 21 600 mph, even tiny particles can wreak havoc.”
Space junk is a real problem in Earth’s orbit as nearly 129 million pieces orbit around the Earth at high speeds.
ISS’ cautionary manoeuvre to avoid debris
NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, found themselves in danger’s way on 22 September 2020, When some debris almost came crashing into them.
The International Space Station (ISS) quickly did an emergency manoeuvre away from the fast-moving orbiting debris.
They fired their thrusters on a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft. They took shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft in case they had to evacuate if necessary while doing the ‘avoidance manoeuvre.’
Watch: How humans ‘trashed’ space
NASA did say, however, that this was all done “out of an abundance of caution,” and that “at no time was the crew in any danger” to the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the ISS.
The manoeuvre is done out of necessity and on a regular basis. NASA even went on to add that about 25 such manoeuvres have been happening between 1999 and 2018.
The ISS astronauts, along with the Roscosmos cosmonaut, performed a fly-around of the orbiting laboratory. This was so they could take pictures of the station. The group is returning home after spending 197 days in space.
Space junk is a real problem in our orbital atmosphere, but protocols are in place to monitor any that may cause immediate danger to the planet or other astronauts.
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