November 4, 2013 -
The movie Gravity which hit the box-office a
month from today is a science fiction thriller
that continues to receive great reviews. The
plot focuses on a medical engineer and an
astronaut that work together to survive after
being struck by orbital space debris that leaves
them adrift in space. Although the movie is
fiction it portrays events that are realistic in
Through innovation and technology development,
space is more accessible than ever before.
However, the last 50 years of space activities
has led to thousands of defunct satellites and
other debris left behind to orbit the Earth.
The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Space
Group facilitated an international conference on
space debris in July 2013 in which they
highlighted the urgent need to mitigate the risk
of space debris.
Space debris encompasses both natural
(meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles.
Meteoroids are in orbit about the sun, while
most artificial debris is in orbit about the
Earth. Hence, the latter is more commonly
referred to as orbital debris.
There are currently two regions in space where
debris is becoming an issue, Low Earth Orbit
which extends 2,000km (1,242 miles) above the
Earth’s surface and Geostationary Orbit which is
some 35,786km above the Equator.