( ˈdeibriː ). ( (American) dəˈbri: ) noun
n. detrito, partículas, [building ] escombros.
References in classic literature ?
A tide of waifs, strays, and malcontents of old camps along the river began to set towards Devil's Ford, in very much the same fashion as the debris. drift, and alluvium had been carried down in bygone days and cast upon its banks.
The last tardy diners are scarcely given time to finish, before the tables and the debris are shoved into the corner, and the chairs and the babies piled out of the way, and the real celebration of the evening begins.
He was moving swiftly back and forth among the debris of his furniture, now and then staving chance fragments of it across the room with his foot; grinding a constant grist of curses through his set teeth; and halting every little while to deposit another handful of his hair on the pile which he had been building of it on the table.
The steps came creaking up the stairs -- the intolerable distress of the situation woke the stricken resolution of the lads -- they were about to spring for the closet, when there was a crash of rotten timbers and Injun Joe landed on the ground amid the debris of the ruined stairway.
it had partially filled with debris so that how large it had originally been was difficult to say.
Two months after, they learned from Bowen, commander of the Albemarle, that the debris of shipwrecked vessels had been seen on the coasts of New Georgia.
A cash box had been hastily smashed open and thrown under the debris .
The waves had receded, leaving bits of dark debris upon the ground.
A smooth grassy slope, bounded, at the upper end, by venerable ruins half buried in ivy, at the lower, by a stream seen through arching trees--a dozen gaily-dressed people, seated in little groups here and there--some open hampers--the debris of a picnic--such were the Facts accumulated by the Scientific Researcher.
A skeleton with a tangle of brown hair adhering to it lay among the debris .
It was the site of an old encampment, with several empty Chicago meat tins, a bottle labeled "Brandy," a broken tin-opener, and a quantity of other travelers' debris .
We ascended to his study, and he laid the debris before me.
The furniture was buried under a mass of debris. and instead of the gilded ceiling above him was only the blue sky.
There were people about, rooting through the debris. or patrolling in groups.
Feverishly we worked to remove the debris which pinned them down.
It was a boiling brown flood, covered with drifting foam and debris.
However, all the Cubs could swim, and Dan took care to steer clear of floating logs and debris.
Debris showered into the street from the buildings on every side.
Goritz was shelled heavily and what remained of the city was further reduced to a mass of debris.
Their pace was halted by washouts, obstructed by debris in the trail.
The frames of the burnt coaches were reduced to a pile of debris and were totally unrecognisable.
Until then the stream had followed the street; but the debris that encumbered it deflected the course.
years a large amount of debris is accumulated in space. The result is 35,117,000 objects in near-Earth space with an estimated mass of approximately 2,000,000kg  and growing. Out of the total objects occupying near-Earth space there are approximately 350 operational spacecraft  the rest are debris or garbage and the situation get worse in the next few years. And currently there's no workable and economic way to clean up the mess.
8. Debris size and effect on spacecraft can be grouped into the following categories .
(a) Debris less than 0.01cm - Causes surface pitting and erosion which may have significant effect on the spacecraft after long exposures.
(b) Debris 0.01cm to 1cm - Causes significant impact damage which can be serious depending on spacecraft system design.
(c) Debris larger than 1cm - Causes significant damage and may cause the catastrophic loss of the spacecraft.
9. As an example, this debris is that much hazardous that a small 0.3 cm diameter sphere of aluminium that is travelling at 10 Km/sec contains about the same amount of kinetic energy as a large bowling ball travelling at 100 km/h. Impact with such an object would do severe damage to a space craft or space.
10. The most debris-crowded area is between 550 miles and 625 miles above the Earth, meaning the risk is less for manned spaceflight. The International Space Station operates at about 250 miles altitude, and Space Shuttle flights tend to range between 250 miles and 375 miles, but the junk can pose a risk to commercial and research flights and other space activities.
11. Human caused debris is equally hazardous but it differs from natural meteoroid threat in several important aspects. First, space debris remains in earth orbit during its entire lifetime and not a transient phenomenon like stream meteoroid. Second, at altitudes less than 2,000 Km above Earth’s surface, the space debris population dominates the natural.
Technical approaches to removing space debris, like the Swiss CleanSpace One spacecraft (above), first require legal solutions to key issues, such as a definition of space debris. (credit: EPFL)Addressing the challenges of space debris, part 1: defining space debris by Michael Listner
In a previous essay, I discussed some of the legal issues surrounding space debris remediation. (See “Legal issues surrounding space debris remediation”. The Space Review, August 6, 2012.) Starting with the issue of defining space debris in this essay, I will, over the next several months, attempt to flesh out some issues related to this topic and articulate solutions to them.
A definition of space debris designed to evaluate whether an object is indeed debris and whether a launching state could expressly abandon it is a prudent method of approaching the problem.
As discussed in the previous essay, there is yet to be an acceptable legal definition of space debris. There have been proposals for defining space debris, but these definitions are couched mostly in the context of legally binding treaties and liability for space debris. Given the current geopolitical realities, the prospect of a legally binding space law treaty addressing space debris is slim and, therefore, such definitions will not likely gain acceptance.
A more realistic approach to remediation of space debris is to apply a quasi-legal definition that directly addresses the problem of ownership under Article VIII, which is one the primary issues associated with removing space debris. Specifically, the current body of space law does not contemplate salvage rights to space debris because of the ownership issues related to Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty. Therefore, before space debris remediation can begin in earnest, the question of ownership and whether a particular space object can be removed must be addressed.
To that end, a definition of space debris designed to evaluate whether an object is indeed debris and whether a launching state could expressly abandon it is a prudent method of approaching the problem. The following may be an appropriate definition to address those concerns:“Space debris” is:
An brief discussion of each of these bulleted conditions follows.
Condition 1: “Space debris” is a “space object”.
The most critical and indispensable component of this definition is also the most contentious. “Space object” is a legal term defined in international space law by Article I(b) of the Registration Convention and Article 1(d) and the Liability Convention. The definition of space object between these two treaties is consistent in that both treaties state that “[t]he term ‘space object’ includes component parts of a space object as well as its launch vehicle and parts thereof.” However, despite this simple and concise definition, considerable debate exists about the true meaning of the term and has provided ample fodder for legal scholars to debate in the academic world.
However, the debate is just that: a debate. Taking into the context of how the term “space object” is in the Rescue Agreement prior to its definition in both the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention, the term is clearly equally applicable to intact spacecraft, whether functional or not, or components or fragments of that space object. Furthermore, the Cosmos 954 incident provides precedent for the usage of this term to space debris.
When the components from Cosmos 954 were discovered in the Canadian Northwest Territories and identified after its fall from orbit, the Department of External Affairs referred to Article 5 of the Rescue Agreement in its February 8, 1978, communiqué to the Embassy of the USSR. The purpose of Canada referencing the Rescue Agreement in this initial communiqué was not only to fulfill its obligations under that accord, but it also likely used to reinforce that Canada identified the debris as coming from Cosmos 954 and as such belonged to the USSR in advance of its claim under the Liability Convention.
The term “space object” is clearly equally applicable to intact spacecraft, whether functional or not, or components or fragments of that space object.
Whether Canada knowingly provided a precedent of applying the term “space object” to components of a space object—i.e. Cosmos 954—is unclear, but the fact remains that doing so established a standard for that term. While the term precedes the actual definition of the term in the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention, it seems clear application during the Cosmos 954 incident provides ample support for the concise definition found in the Rescue Agreement’s sibling treaties.
Additionally, the use of the term and definition in the domestic space laws of some nations makes the case that the term “space object” as defined has legal precedent. For example, Austria’s recently adopted domestic space law defines “space object” as an “object launched or intended to be launched into outer space, including its components.” This definition falls in line with the definition found in both the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention and provided support for the definition of the term in those two accords.
Condition 2: “Space debris” is a “space object” that no longer performs its original function or has no tangible function or whose function is no longer required.
After establishing a baseline that any space debris is at the very least a space object, the next element to consider is whether the space object continues to have a function that would provide continuing value in the eyes of its launching state. There are three potential conditions to be evaluated: the space object continues to perform its original function; the space object no longer performs its original function; the space object has no purpose or function or the space object’s function is no longer required.
For example, a screw, bolt, or fragment decidedly has no function since it is no longer part of the original space object that it originated from. Therefore, the launching state could easily decide that the space object is indeed space debris and may be expressly abandoned. A different scenario plays out with an intact satellite that, except for the fact that its operation is no longer required, remains a functional space object. In that case, evaluating its value to the launching state becomes more difficult. However, a space object that no longer performs its function even though it may be considered space debris may still have value to the launching state to the extent that it will not expressly abandon it.
Condition 3: Space debris is a space object that either re-enters the atmosphere, remains in Earth orbit, in outer space, or on the Moon or another celestial body.
The physical location of the space object is also important. When discussing space debris, most commentary is made with respect to space debris in earth orbit. However, this ignores that there are substantial space objects in solar orbit, on the Moon, other planets, and in the far reaches of the solar system. Furthermore, just because a satellite reenters the atmosphere does not mean that it ceases to be space object. This is borne out not only in the space law treaties, but has also been shown with the incident of Cosmos 954.
Moreover, numerous space objects have been left on the Moon, including those that arrived by robotic spacecraft and those left by behind by the Apollo missions. The value of these space objects can be evaluated on the basis of functionality as articulated above. For example, there are still experiments left behind by the Apollo missions that still perform their function to this day, such as the laser reflector, while other space objects, such as the decent modules, do not. The question for the launching state is whether space objects such as the decent modules have continuing value or should they be expressly abandoned.
Condition 4: “Space debris” is a “space object” that is either created intentionally or through the actions or inactions of a launching state.
Another test is whether the space object was created intentionally or through the actions or inaction of a launching state. For example, a satellite has ceased functioning or whose function no longer is required would be considered intentionally created in that it was launched for a specific purpose. On the other hand, a space object that is created by a collision between two space objects could be said to have been created intentionally or unintentionally, depending on the circumstance.
For instance the recent explosion of a failed Breeze-M upper stage created hundreds of new space objects, which could be classified as space debris. The failure of the stage and its subsequent explosion were unintentional and not the result of the direct actions of the launching state, but the fact remains that new space objects were created as result that have no tangible function. The question is whether the launching state could determine whether the space objects created have value such that they could be expressly abandoned.
The emerging field of space archeology looks upon space objects that would otherwise be classified as space debris as historical artifacts. Such a viewpoint might preclude express abandonment.
Conversely, the testing of the Istrebitel (Killer) satellite system through the 1970s and early 1980s is an example of space objects that were created through the intentional actions of a launching state, in this case the Soviet Union. The Istrebitel satellites were co-orbital ASATs designed to rendezvous with its intended target and detonate producing fragments (space objects) that would disable or destroy the target satellite. After the testing of the rendezvous capability, the satellites were intentionally detonated, producing additional space objects that are catalogued and continue to be a problem in LEO. Analyzing these space objects in the context of the conditions above, the space objects created were intentionally created and have no tangible function. Therefore, the launching state could conclude that these space objects could be expressly abandoned.
Condition 5: A space object may have economic value to a launching state.
This condition requires the launching state to consider whether the space object in question has a continuing economic value. Despite the fact that the space object in question meets the conditions of space debris, does the space object have a present or future economic value that would preclude its express abandonment?
For example, a defunct intelligence gathering satellite running low on propellant is retired even though its systems continue to function. Should this space object be expressly abandoned as space debris because it can longer perform its function? Intelligence gathering satellites have significant price tags attached to their construction and represent significant economic investment. It could be argued that, even though such a space object would qualify as space debris, it shouldn’t be expressly abandoned given that future refueling technologies may allow the space object to be replenished allowing it to reenter service.
On the other hand, the launching state may determine that economic value of refueling the space object would be greater than simply replacing it with a new satellite. In that case, given that the space object cannot continue its original function the launching state may classify the space object as space debris and expressly abandon the object.
Condition 6: A space object may have historical value to the launching state.
In some cases, a space object that meets one or more of the conditions above might have historical value, prompting the launching state to retain ownership. Examples include the aforementioned lunar decent modules at the Apollo landing sites on the Moon.
Arguably, the decent modules at the Apollo landing sites meet several of the criteria of found in this definition of space debris: they are space objects, whose original function no longer exists, residing on the Moon, and they have little or no economic value to the launching state. While these conditions would argue in favor of classifying the objects as space debris and hence express abandonment, the fact that these space objects represent a significant period within the history of the launching state would be an additional factor that would weigh in favor of the launching state retaining ownership.
The historical significance of a space object is subjective, though, and would depend on whether the launching state believes the object’s historical value abrogates other conditions that would favor express abandonment. For example, Kosmos 359, a Venus lander launched on August 22, 1970, failed to leave orbit and remains in an elliptical Earth orbit. Several of the conditions noted above would weigh in classifying the space object as space debris and argue in favor of express abandonment. However, the launching state could argue that the space object possesses historical value and therefore decide to retain ownership.
More so, the emerging field of space archeology looks upon space objects that would otherwise be classified as space debris as historical artifacts. Such a viewpoint might preclude express abandonment at least until the space objects in question were properly photographed and catalogued.
Condition 7: A space object may have continued national security value to a launching state.
The final and perhaps most contentious condition for the classification of space debris is the national security value that a space object may have to the launching state. Like the condition of historical value, the national security value of a space object could shift an analysis that would otherwise classify a space object as space debris and a candidate for express abandonment.
The key to understanding this approach to defining space debris is that rather than providing a blanket legal definition, it provides a launching state the ability to look at a space object under its jurisdiction from a value point of view.
The previously discussed scenario of the intelligence gathering satellite that was determined to be space debris based on numerous conditions articulated here is a prime example. Even though the conditions would argue for its classification as space debris and express abandonment, the fact remains that its previous function of intelligence gathering means that it retains a great value to national security for its launching state. This fact alone would compel the state to retain ownership of the space object.
However, even more so than the condition of the historical value, an assertion of national security can be highly subjective. For example, the intentional destruction of FY-1C in 2007 as part of a Chinese ASAT test produced thousands of space objects. Applying some of the tests articulated here one could argue that the fragments produced from that test are space objects, in Earth orbit, that have no tangible function, were created by the actions of the launching state, and have no economic value or historical value to the launching state. Considering that most if not all of the conditions would argue in favor of classifying the fragments as space debris and therefore express abandonment, the launching state could argue that the space objects have national security value given how they were created and therefore refuse to expressly abandon them. While such a claim may not hold up to an objective analysis, it is the subjective viewpoint of the launching state that would prevail.
The key to understanding this approach to defining space debris is that rather than providing a blanket legal definition, it provides a launching state the ability to look at a space object under its jurisdiction from a value point of view. It does so by allowing the launching state to apply a “totality of the circumstances” test that will help it reach an informed decision.
Unlike a generalized legal definition of space debris, which applies a technical definition with the intention of imposing liability or accountability to a launching state for space debris, the test conveyed in this essay is designed to allow a launching state to thoroughly analyze the value apportioned to a space object on a case-by-case basis. The result of the analysis would allow the launching state to decide for itself whether a space object should be retained or expressly abandoned: the first and most crucial step in space debris remediation. Admittedly, approaching the issue of defining space debris this way is unusual, but the issue of space debris is a new frontier for law and space law in particular, and unconventional methods will be required to meet the challenges presented.
Michael is an attorney and the founder and principal of Space Law and Policy Solutions, a firm that counsels governmental and private organizations on matters relating to space law and policy, including issues surrounding space debris. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Information Systems from Franklin Pierce University and obtained his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from Regent University School of Law. He is a member of the New Hampshire Bar and a member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL). Contact Michael at Michael@spacelawsolutions.com .
In the first crash of its kind, two communication satellites collided on February 10, 2009 in orbit shooting out a pair of huge debris clouds and poising a slight risk to the International Space Station (ISS). The collision occurred nearly 800km over Siberia and involved a US Iridium commercial satellite (launched in 1997) and a defunct Russian satellite Cosmos2252 (launched in 1993).
Iridium satellite weighed 560 kg, while the Russian craft nearly a tonne. The incident raised questions over how it was allowed to happen and what will become of the cloud of orbital debris, which adds to one of the biggest headaches in space. The collision has fuelled concerns over lack of traffic controls in space and the rising volumes of junk that endanger vital satellites and manned flights.
Just a month after the Iridium accident, a stray motor chunk hurtled toward the International Space Station. Cruising at an altitude of 220 miles, astronauts aboard the $100 billion laboratory were going about their daily chores at around noon EDT when they received a warning- Prepare for possible impact. The crew was directed to scramble into the station's equivalent of a lifeboat, an attached Russian-made Soyuz capsule. It would give them a chance to abandon ship, if necessary. After a few minutes, the motor zipped by, missing the ISS by just a few miles in space terms, a close call.
Then on December 1, 2010, with almost no warning, a small chunk from a different Cosmos satellite hurtled toward the ISS, coming within a mile of a direct hit. Due to its speeding-bullet velocity, even this fragment could have had an impact equal to a truck bomb and would have blown everything to smithereens.
Incidents like these serve as clear signs that something must finally be done about space junk. Its proliferation threatens not only current and future space missions but also global communications mobile phone networks, satellite television, radio broadcasts, weather tracking, and military surveillance, even the dashboard GPS devices that keep us from getting lost.
The number of manufactured objects cluttering the sky is now expected to double every few years as large objects weaken and split apart and new collisions create more Kesslerian debris, leading to yet more collisions.
If we look at a brief history of space junk, the Telstar-1 satellite which relayed the first phone calls and TV signals across the Atlantic is still in the space after failing in 1963. By 1985, the number of catalogued orbiting debris objects of over 10cm in diameter had reached nearly 6,500. By 2005, these increased to 10,000. In 2007, a Chinese test weapon shot down the Fengyun-1C satellite, creating some 3,000 new pieces of trackable space junk. At present, the number of catalogued debris objects has crossed the 15,000 mark.
Space debris comprises the ever increasing amount of inactive space hardware in orbit around the earth as well as fragments of spacecraft that have broken up exploded or otherwise become abandoned. About 50 per cent of all trackable objects are due to in-orbit explosion events (about 200) or collision events (less than 10). Litter in orbit has increased in recent years, in part because of the deliberate break-ups of old satellites. It has become so bad that orbital debris is now the biggest threat to space shuttle in flight, surpassing the dangers of lift-off and return to Earth.
Though active satellites and the ISS have thrusters to manoeuvre out of harm's way, it will be at the cost of using up precious fuel. Between the launch of Sputnik on 4 October 1957 and 1 January 2008, approximately 4600 launches have placed some 6000 satellites in to orbit, of which about 400 are travelling beyond geostationary orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. It is estimated that only 800 of these satellites are operational today, roughly 45 percent of these are both in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geo Stationary Orbit (GEO).
So far, nations have been operating under a Big Sky theory, that space is so vast that the odds of a collision were 'infinitesimal'. China added significantly to space debris when it used a ground based ballistic missile to blow apart an obsolete weather satellite in a January 2007 arms test. The United States used a missile from a Navy warship to explode a tank of toxic fuel on crippled US spy satellite in February 2007.
Currently, the US Space Surveillance Network is using ground- based radar, optical and infrared sensors to track more than 7500 objects. The minimum size of trackable object is about 10cm for a LEO, and about lm for the GEO. Only about 6 per cent of these catalogued objects are active satellites. Over 40 per cent are fragments of disintegrated satellites and upper stages of rockets. However, the vast majority of manmade debris comprises objects smaller than 10cm which are not tracked during routine operations. It is estimated that 30,000 to 100,000 objects larger than 1cm range are in space.
Space debris is an inherently international problem whose solution requires international cooperation. The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man- made and natural debris in space. The IADC facilitates exchange of information on space debris research activities between member space agencies. It also facilitates opportunities for cooperation in space debris research, to review the progress of ongoing cooperative activities, and to identify debris mitigation options.
The IADC member agencies include the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), British National Space Centre (BNSC), Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), China National Space Administration (CNSA), German Aerospace Center (DLR), European Space Agency (ESA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (J AX A), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU), and the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS). The IADC has a Steering Group and four specified Working Groups covering measurements (WG1), environment and database (WG2), protection (WG3) and mitigation (WG4).
In spite of such cooperation, the US defense department has warned that junk of abandoned rockets, shattered satellites and missile shrapnel in space may cause collision between satellites, destroying communication facilities on earth. The space junk, dubbed 'an orbiting rubbish dump',
also comprises nuts, bolts, gloves and other debris from space missions and no satellite can be 'reliably shielded' against them.
According to scientists, the debris scattered in the earth's orbit is reaching a 'tipping point' and pose a threat to the $250 billion space services industry. A single collision between two satellites or large pieces of 'space junk' can send thousands of pieces of debris spinning into orbit, triggering an 'uncontrolled chain reaction'.
The 'chain reaction' can leave some orbits so cluttered with debris that they become unusable for commercial or military satellites. Moreover, large pieces of debris threaten the lives of astronauts in space shuttles or at the International Space Station.
In view of the alarming situation, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has issued Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, urging the removal of spacecraft and launch vehicles from the earth's orbit after the end of their missions. According to UNOOSA, space needs "policies and laws to protect the public interest"