Space Pollution MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   On October 4, 1957 the first artificial satellite was launched. This metallic ball was called Sputnik I, weighing 184 pounds and carrying equipment to measure the density of the atmosphere. However, 96 days later Sputnik I re-entered the earth's atmosphere. Still, it was considered a large-scale success. On April 12, 1961 the race for who would be the first man in space came to an end. A Soviet test pilot, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human being in space. These two events marked the beginning of exploration in a new frontier and the beginning of a new and unfamiliar type of pollution.

A major threat to America's endangered environment is pollution. When a scheduled space shuttle enters space, it leaves satellites, shuttle parts and other debris which stay in space and cause more damage than we think. This pollution of man-made objects in space affects us here on earth as well and will continue to affect us in future travel.

Satellites, solar panels, rocket bodies and fragments from space shuttles that are floating in space and are no longer functional are considered space debris. This type of debris has the speed to collide with meteorites and make further opportunity for damage to other objects in space. Even very small objects can do considerable damage. A paint chip could puncture the space suit of an astronaut. This debris can also float to earth and re-enter the earth's atmosphere. Over 14,000 objects have fallen to the earth over the past 30 years.

In 1978, the Soviet Union Kosmos 954, which contained a nuclear power source,re-entered over Canada and left debris over an area the size of Austria. In 1969, five Japanese sailors were injured by pieces of space debris that hit their ship. The largest piece, weighing one thousand pounds, landed in Australia in 1979. It has also been reported that the Challenger's windshield was damaged by a paint chip in 1983. Although no life-threatening damage has resulted from collisions thus far, the potential threat remains.

Many solutions are being considered by scientists and engineers, however, the challenge to finding a solution lies within all of the nations who have helped to pollute our new frontier. If we do not accept this challenge, I feel the long-term consequences will jeopardize our future travels in space and damage our earth's land and itsinhabitants. u

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