India’s A-SAT Missile Test’s Debris Still In Space: NASA
NASA has claimed to have found that at least 28 pieces of debris from India’s ambitious anti-satellite A-SAT missile test. They are still present in the Earth’s lower orbit even seven months after India’s successful test-firing of the missile.
NASA has claimed to have found that at least 28 pieces of debris from India’s ambitious anti-satellite A-SAT missile test. They are still present in the Earth’s lower orbit even seven months after India’s successful test-firing of the missile. India joined an elite group to possess such capability after the successful test.
After India’s missile test, NASA claimed that it led to the creation of around 400 pieces of debris threatening the International Space Station (ISS) as well as future space missions.
After this, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had, however, said “whatever debris was generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks”. The DRDO chief G. Satheesh Reddy also said that all the fragments would decay within 45 days of the test.
Jonathan McDowellv, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told on Tuesday that NASA has tracked at least 101 pieces of debris from the A-SAT missile test initially. 28 of them still remain in the Earth’s low orbit.
McDowell commented, “We don’t know the size of the debris. Most pieces are probably less than a metre in size, maybe 10 cm.”Debris & Its Effects In Space
McDowell explained that some of these fragments are travelling at a speed as high as 28,000 km/hour and thus pose a risk to satellites.
He said, “In particular, the debris can intersect with that of the International Space Station. The risk of collision is low, but not completely negligible”. Also, adding that computer models show some of the debris could last in the orbit until 2022.
Debris in the lower orbit of the Earth orbit starts to slowly decrease their altitude due to friction in the atmosphere. But once these fragments re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up.
NASA says that over 5,00,000 pieces of debris or “space junk” are tracked as they orbit the Earth. They travel at high speed. Even a small piece of orbital debris is sufficient to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.
The increasing amount of space debris has been a cause of concern across the globe. It threatens astronauts aboard the ISS. The threat of space collision has also increased significantly with the rise of space-faring, with countries launching more and more satellites every year.
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