The manned and unmanned visits to the moon have filled its surface with more than 400,000 pounds of trash. The items which have littered the moon range from spacecraft to the insulating blankets and even the used wipes. Scientists thought that instead of bringing the astronaut back with all of its equipment, it would be easier and cheaper to leave some of it on the moon’s surface. The garbage from the unmanned missions also added to the trash. All of this resulted in creating a huge sized junkyard on the surface of the moon.
The unmanned missions are also ended sometimes by crashing the probes. These crashes also left more than 70 vehicles all over the moon’s surface. Apart from the moon, some trash has also been found on the surface of Venus and Mars. There is also a lot of trash orbiting around the earth. Journey to space began in 1957 when Russia launched Sputnik. After that many satellites have been launched into the space and the increased amount of activity has created a lot of garbage as well. There are more than 4600 satellites which are orbiting around the earth. There are also an estimated 14,000 old rocket parts and pieces in the space as well. According to scientists the space junk which includes out of control space stations, used rocket parts, dead satellites and lost tools make up almost 95% of the material that is revolving around the earth.
Bill Ailor, an aerospace engineer and atmospheric reentry specialist said that all this junk in the earth’s atmosphere can stay in the space for hundreds of years. And the junk that is in the further outer space can stay as long as thousands of years. The data released from Space-Track states that for most of the garbage the US is responsible and Russia and China are following it. Even though Russia has the highest number of objects in space which is more than 6500, it has still not contributed much to the junk as compared to the US.
The highest number of trackable trash in orbit is 3999 and it belongs to the US. Russia created 3961 pieces of junk and China is standing on number three with 3475 pieces of space junk. The junk china created is a result of they destroying their own satellite in an anti-satellite weapon test. The test created more than 2300 pieces of junk. The space junk travels with a speed that reaches more than 36000kmh, which is the biggest issue with them. A small piece between 1 to 10 cm in size can damage a spacecraft with this speed.
According to an estimate, a 10-centimetre long piece of space junk can cause damage that equals damage caused by twenty-five sticks of dynamite. NASA and Department of Defense have been working on the space surveillance network to fight against these issues. Ground stations have been trying to track larger pieces of trash to avoid the collisions with the working satellites. A co-operative effort is being planned to avoid creating more trash in the space and to clean up the already created one. Space agencies and corporations are also looking into developing systems that can de-orbit the satellites.
Fingers crossed for a cleaner moon!