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  • Dhruv Kamani

The Kessler Syndrome - Creating a Prison for Humanity

There are a lot of problems in the world currently, but there is a problem outside the planet that not many people are aware of- the increasing amount of space debris in Earth’s outer atmosphere.

Every year, thousands of rockets and satellites are launched into space. These require a lot of energy to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity and a large amount of fuel. This, in turn, makes the rocket very heavy, so the parts of the rocket that are not required after reaching Earth’s orbit are ejected. The Earth’s orbit is very hard to escape from. Therefore, a lot of satellites and space stations remain there for a long time until they are decommissioned. This is also what makes space debris very dangerous. All the ejected parts of rockets, space debris, decommissioned satellites and space stations remain in Earth’s orbit for centuries, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and speeding up due to Earth’s gravity. This debris is extremely hazardous to satellites and astronauts, as it has an average speed of 30,000 kilometers per hour. In theory, a piece smaller than a marble travelling at this speed can produce enough kinetic energy after coming into contact with a satellite to completely destroy it, which in turn creates millions of more pieces of debris. This could cause a chain reaction that destroys more and more satellites into billions of tiny pieces. As we rely on satellites for a lot of things, it would be catastrophic if they got destroyed.

Scientists say the amount of space junk in our orbit could increase tenfold in the next decade.

The consequences of this build-up of space debris are horrifying and may push back the Space Race by several centuries if left unchecked. However, several countries and people around the world have already started working on solutions to this problem. A lot of these ideas are theoretical, but their groundwork is strong. Many solutions involve using giant nets to trap space debris and push it just a little closer to the earth so that it burns up in the atmosphere. Others involve using lasers to disintegrate smaller pieces of space debris, and some plan to use magnets to get the debris to stick. No matter what the solution is, it is necessary that we act fast.

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