In this article, we do not refer to the environment as in the atmosphere, but to extend beyond the atmosphere at a distance where the earth’s gravitational pull acts on the object at a lighter degree (Low Earth Orbit). Objects in low-Earth orbit are at an altitude of between 160 to 2,000 km (99 to 1200 mi) above the Earth’s surface (Williams, 2017).
The layers of our atmosphere showing the altitude of the most common auroras. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Along with the development of space science and technology, the universe gradually becomes an infrastructure of communication technology. Satellites, spacecraft, missiles, and spacecraft are launched every year. Much of the space infrastructure is located in the Low Earth Orbit. On one hand, media infrastructure in space surely led to human development, enabling possibilities of technology, such as global communication, the internet of things, GPS, thermal imaging, and so on. On another hand, environmental issues are also raised, as space debris has become a prominent issue that is in constant discussion. The European space agency estimates the number of space debris as of February 2020: 34000 objects bigger than 10cm, 900 000 objects greater than 1cm to 10 cm, 128 million objects greater than 1mm to 1cm. Some methods have been discussed to clean up space debris but we are uncertain about the effectiveness of them.
I propose we think critically about the impacts of our innovations, wherever humans can reach, to minimize negative future effects while at the same time soliciting development for humanity.
Williams, 2017. What is Low Earth Orbit? URL: https://www.universetoday.com/85322/what-is-low-earth-orbit/ Accessed 26th Oct 2020.
The European space agency. Space debris by the numbers URL https://www.esa.int/Safety_Security/Space_Debris/Space_debris_by_the_numbers Accessed 26th Oct 2020.