MIT and suggested the establishment of ESA satellites safety rating
As aerospace companies promise to flood the Earth's orbit with thousands of new satellites over the next decade, industry experts say it's time to categorize these statements depending on their desire to preserve the space safe and clean. The rating system will help companies to remain honest and will provide Earth orbit open for business and free from excessive debris, garbage and satellites.
It's time to deal with debris in orbit
Currently, according to the European Space Agency, in orbit is about 2,000 active satellites and monitor the agency more than 22,000 fragments. But companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon offered to add a huge new constellation of satellites, hundreds or thousands of pieces. As soon as the number of satellites orbiting the Earth increases, so does the risk of collision of vehicles. Collisions can generate hundreds of fragments, threatening other functioning devices.
Satellite operators can take certain steps in the creation and launch of the spacecraft, aimed at reducing the probability of collision. Changes in the structure of the satellite, its position on the ground or in respect of his flight may affect his chances of threat to other spacecraft and creating excess debris in orbit.
Space Sustainability Rating
And now, two groups of experts from MIT and ESA plan to establish an independent evaluation process decisions taken by the satellite operators to create their own constellations. Concept Space Sustainability Rating (SSR, "the cosmic stability rating") is to provide an additional level of responsibility for companies that send vehicles into space. "This is essentially encourages companies to compete with each other for good behavior, for the establishment of reputation," says Daniel Wood, an assistant professor of media arts and sciences at MIT and head of the MIT team. There are already regulations designed to maintain the purity of the Earth's orbit. Government agencies in the United States, which regulate launches, such as FCC, regarded as the satellite can influence on the space environment, before allowing him to fly. In the 1990s, the US government has developed guidelines and methods for operators, which they need to follow to reduce the risk of debris. The UN has adopted standards, similar to the US and other countries have developed their own leadership.
But at the World Economic Forum have suggested that there should be some kind of a parallel system for monitoring space companies, managing the industry and requires voluntary action. Therefore, to develop SSR chose MIT and ESA. The team has not yet decided on the details of the rating, but will spend the next few years based on the study.
One of the most important aspects of the rating is the company complies with current standards. "One of the questions that we ask, will be the following: whether the operator complies with the satellite certain rules and guidelines," Wood says. Most of these standards revolves around the life of the satellite services, requiring operators to eventually withdraw its moons from orbit. US satellites require safe disposal in 25 years. This means either the approach of the satellite to the Earth, where it is attracted by the force of gravity and burns up in the atmosphere or on the conclusion of the satellite "into orbit, the cemetery" - the space area that is not used by any active satellites.
SSR will be considered as the company gets rid of his companions, as well as take into account all of the physical characteristics of the spacecraft, which can make the vehicle more dangerous. This is a concept that Moriba Jha, one of the MIT team partners, calls "space after" - similar to the concept of the carbon footprint on the earth. "It's a burden that any object - alive or dead - confers on security and stability in the rest of the space," says Jha. Space trail will take into account, for example, the satellite orbit. "Some of the orbit is extremely empty, nothing in the district do not have," says Jha. "Some contain many other objects in the same space highway." There's orbit at 40,000 kilometers above the equator - the geostationary belt - a very popular place for communications satellites; and orbits at an altitude of 400-900 kilometers and crowded Earth observation satellites. The satellite at one of these relatively crowded orbits will have a larger footprint area than satellite in orbit relative to a blank.
spacecraft agility is also important: if he had a motor that will avoid collisions? Will he be able to quickly get away from the road? According to Jha, the answers to these questions will be taken into account in the calculation of the area. As built the satellite, it will also be taken into account. If it is designed to withstand extreme temperature and vibration, it is less likely to fall apart and turn into garbage.
The teams of MIT and ESA will have to figure out how much weight to give each of these characteristics of the satellite. To get all the necessary information, the team plans to use publicly available data that the company exchanged in licensed applications on their devices. These include, for example, the satellite's orbit and disposal plans. Wood says that the operators will have to choose between the best rating and the ability to hide the information.
Once the evaluation system will be adopted, the teams will be offered algorithm is evaluated as a satellite or a constellation can affect other vehicles in space. Perhaps when all this is finished, watch these indicators will be entrusted to another entity. Companies and operators will be able to improve its image, boosting its SSR. It will also be useful for companies that insure their ships - SSR can be a good guide for the evaluation of the satellite account.
But the main goal is to save the Earth's orbit in working order. If the space is too much garbage, some orbits may become unusable. So, in theory, we might lose some opportunities that depend on satellites, such as satellite TV and communications, Earth observation and space exploration. This is one of the main reasons that Jha and Wood working on SSR - it provides another way to protect the cosmos.
"Near-Earth space required to protect the environment," says Jha. "It's not as big a problem as climate change, but the global commons, which may be affected by the tragedy, if we do not do anything."
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