Space junk is a problem that is only getting worse. Since the first satellite launched in 1957, Earth’s lower orbit has steadily been filling with junk to the point that it is now threatening satellites and the International Space Station (ISS). In 2021, the situation worsened as Russia destroyed a dead satellite, creating a field of debris. Recognizing the threat presented by space junk, the Biden administration called to end tests that damage satellites in space in 2022.
On Jan. 9, 2023, a dead NASA satellite plunged back to Earth over the Bering Sea. The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) had launched in 1984 to study how the Earth absorbed and radiated the sun’s energy. Thankfully, no injuries or property damage arose from its crash to Earth. Debris from the ERBS also fell over the Korean peninsula. The Ministry of Science and ICT sent emergency text messages warning people not to go outside. Local airports temporarily halted flights due to safety concerns. In Jeju, 29 flights were delayed as planes were forbidden to take off for 44 minutes from 12:10 p.m. to 12:54 p.m.
Every year, there are dozens of near accidents involving active satellites and junk, yet there are still no international regulations to deal with space debris. While governments are now working toward cleaning up space junk, we still have a long way to go before we and all the satellites we use for GPS and missile warnings are out of harm’s way.
Sarah Kim For The Teen Times
1. How is the space junk problem, according to the first paragraph?
2. What happened on Jan. 9, 2023? What is the ERBS?
3. How did Korea respond to ERBS debris on its peninsula?
4. What is the status quo of space junk or debris, according to the last paragraph?
1. Do you agree that the space junk problem is serious? What are some other problems regarding space?
2. How do you think the space junk problem can be solved?
3. Which is more important---space junk problem or environmental pollution? Explain your reasoning.
4. Do you think regulations on cleaning up space junk or debris will be effective? Explain your reasoning.