The International Space Station is a lab in space where scientists from different countries work for a common cause. Space debris poses a major problem to the ISS and those who work there. The debris comprises unwanted remnants of the past that can endanger the present. There are innumerable debris floating in space, and these can strike any moving object at random. The science fraternity has enough reasons to be worried. WIO News reports that debris of this nature is turning out to be a pervasive problem for all scientific paraphernalia in space.

People have been sending satellites, rockets, and other machinery into space for decades. Many of these do not return to Earth but remain as junk. Some are large enough to damage satellites that are already operating and include the International Space Station.

This is a laboratory where scientists work together as a team irrespective of their country of origin. They are curious to learn new techniques and share knowledge. These are related to different aspects of life in an environment different from the one on Earth. They have created laboratories and researched growing vegetables in new surroundings. In case of a collision with space debris, the labs could be damaged and the activities disturbed.

Repairs to such equipment in space would be extremely challenging. Scientists onboard the ISS try to keep track of this debris and, the inevitable has now happened. A piece of debris has struck the space lab and damaged it. Fortunately, the damage is not serious. In January 2018, a news report talked about a Chinese proposal to use space lasers to zap space junk.

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Scientists are cautious about space debris

On a rough estimate, there are around 23,000 pieces of junk in Earth’s low orbit. Scientists all over the world are aware of this unwanted material. It is a clutter and poses a danger to flying objects. The size of most of these pieces are small but can cause damage because of their speed.

WIO News makes a mention of the item damaged in the ISS by a piece of debris. It struck the Canadarm2. The Canadian Space Agency designs this, and it has been an integral of the ISS for two decades. It is a robotic arm, and its purpose is to transfer objects outside the station. It also plays a part in maintaining the station. The damage came to light during an inspection on May 12. Experts of NASA and CSA are investigating.

Space debris is a threat

WIO News adds that the ISS had to attend an emergency last year to avoid colliding with junk. China plans to build its space station by 2022, which would mean another target for the debris. Given the growing interest of the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates in the Moon and Mars, there would be much more traffic in the skies with a corresponding increase in debris.

Moreover, space tourism is in the offing where tourists would Travel in search of new experiences. Hence, there is a need to develop technologies that can locate junks that could threaten safety and remove them from the scene.

Damages caused by space debris

According to Daily Mail UK, space junk has kept increasing as the world stepped into the space age. These are of different sizes and resulted in damages. NASA has confirmed this. It seems many space shuttle windows suffered external damages and had to be replaced. The American space agency says this junk adds up to thousands. These are potential threats to human spaceflight and robotic missions. A report of the European Space Agency reveals these fragments are usually of leftover fuel or exploding batteries.

Described as “non-deliberate fragmentations,” these have been occurring regularly over the past two decades. In the opinion of an expert, the debris left by humans in low-Earth orbit resembles a “new drifting island of plastic” in outer space.