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Space sustainability assessment to shed light on the issue of debris

The photo shows the Sentinel-1A solar array before and after the millimeter-sized particles collide with the second panel. The diameter of the damaged area is about 40 cm, which is consistent with this structure due to the effects of debris sized less than 5 mm. Credit: ESA

There is a problem with overhead brewing. Invisible to the naked eye, it threatens the relatively unprecedented future of the universe, space debris.


A new “Space Sustainability Assessment” is currently under development, highlighting the issues and scoring space operators. sustainability Increase the transparency of their mission’s contribution to protection Space environment Encourage and acknowledge responsible behavior.

Global Initiative initiated by World Economic Forum, Is the first of its kind. In situations where no single government or authority has the authority to set and enforce strict rules of conduct for all space exploration organizations, this project promises to be a game changer.

Similar to the energy efficiency and nutrition labeling currently commonly used in household products, food and consumer goods, the Space Sustainability Rating is what individual businesses and organizations need to maintain and improve the health of their near-earth environment. Clarify what you are doing.

Sustainability assessment goes to the next stage

SSR Initiative Developed Last 2 years Forums, ESA, and Space Response Research Group at MIT Media Lab, With the help of BryceTech and the University of Texas at Austin.

As an important next step, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) Space Center (eSpace) was selected to lead and operate a space sustainability assessment in preparation for its deployment.

“Forum Space debris“The World Economic Forum’s Mobility and Space Community Leader, Nicholas Kristof.

“Encouraging better behavior by allowing actors to compete for sustainability creates a“ race to the top ”and EPFL’s eSpace is a great organization to take SSR to the next level. “

Space sustainability assessment to shed light on the issue of debris

Satellites in orbit share near-Earth space with millions of fast and dangerous debris objects. From small millimeter-sized debris, each debris travels miles per second, from the entire satellite failing, out of control, and roaming the space highway. Collision with one of these objects can at least impair the functioning of the spacecraft at work, or, in the worst case, completely destroy the spacecraft and generate more debris. Find out about the scale of the debris problem in this infographic from the ESA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The amount of problems there, the scale of the conversation, the scale of the satellite, etc. Against? Credit: ESA / UNOOSA

ESA measures impact

The SSR rating system is based on factors such as data sharing, orbit selection, measures taken to avoid collisions, plans to disorbit the satellite at the end of the mission, and ease of detection and identification of the satellite. Evaluate the sustainability of the operator. Ground. There is a “bonus mark” for adding optional elements such as grappling fixtures. It can be used for aggressive debris removal in the future.

“The SSR aims to influence the behavior of all space flight personnel, especially nonprofits, and bring the sustainable practices we urgently need into general use,” ESA said. Holger Crag, who is responsible for the space safety program at.

“To achieve this, the SSR assessment includes a peer-reviewed assessment of the short-term and long-term risks that the mission poses to other operators and the general orbital environment.”

Equipped with ESA expertise

ESA’s Space Debris Office at the European Space Agency’s ESOC Mission Control Center in Darmstadt, Germany, has been studying the debris environment for many years and has become a world-leading authority on this issue of global concern.

The agency’s role in the development of space sustainability assessments is to help define the “evaluation architecture”, the criteria for determining space missions, and the expert analysis, data, and technical know-how developed over the years. Includes providing.

One of the most important components of SSR is New methodology To quantify the risk of space debris associated with a mission. This takes into account the additional burden that new missions bring to the operation of existing missions and their potential impact on the long-term evolution of the space debris environment.

Once the evaluation system is in operation, ESA will support EPFL to assess this potential impact on new space missions. The agency will also occupy a seat on the Space Sustainability Assessment Advisory Board and continue to support in many other ways.

Credit: ESA-European Space Agency

Reward good behavior

Satellites have become the backbone of the modern economy, providing many important services such as navigation services, telecommunications, weather forecasts, climate monitoring and television broadcasting. Human reliance on space infrastructure is set to increase exponentially with the launch of a large constellation of small satellites designed to facilitate global Internet access, among other important services. ..

There are currently nearly 4,000 active satellites in orbit, including the inhabited outposts of the International Space Station and the Tiangong Space Station, which are currently under construction.

Exponential growth

This number is set to increase exponentially as more organizations from more countries are preparing to launch new missions. This inevitably increases the risk of collisions and raises questions about the economically important near-earth orbital capacity to safely and sustainably accommodate a large number of aircraft.

By voluntarily participating in the new SSR system, spacecraft operators, launch service providers, and satellite manufacturers will receive one of four levels of certification that can be widely promoted to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. You can secure it.

Increase transparency and do it right

This is expected to increase transparency without disclosing mission-sensitive or proprietary commercial information and encourage good action by other stakeholders in addressing space debris issues. A favorable score for a particular rated operator can, for example, reduce insurance costs or improve funding terms from financial backers.

Historical space ghosts-old satellite and rocket objects-are scattered in Earth’s orbit. It is important not to repeat the mistakes of the past while the mission to remove some of these objects is being developed. The Space Sustainability Rating plays an important role in the responsible use of space and a wide range of measures to ensure a sustainable future for all.

About the sustainability evaluation of the universe

Over the two-year development period of SSR space The industry is working on the evolution of rating systems and there is already widespread interest in this new tool. Several companies, such as Airbus, Astroscale, AXA XL, elseco, Lockheed Martin, Planet, SpaceX and Voyager Space Holdings, are actively supporting the concept of SSR and are interested in joining it once it is published. I am. For more information, please visit the World Economic Forum website.


Space Sustainability Assessment aims to address the increase in space debris orbiting the Earth


Quote: Space Sustainability Assessment (June 18, 2021) to shed light on the issue of debris from https: //phys.org/news/2021-06-space-sustainability-debris-problem.html 2021 Acquired on June 18, 2014

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Space sustainability assessment to shed light on the issue of debris

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