Amid rising fear over the increase in debris in earth's orbit, a cosmic collision between the International Space Station (ISS) and a small space junk has resulted in the damage of the space station's thermal blanket and the boom beneath. Even though the component, known as Canadarm2 is still operational, the recent collision act as a warning sign of the fact that space junk is now a major problem in earth's orbit which could result in catastrophic impacts.
Very small space junk caused the damage
The news of the cosmic collision has been confirmed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In a recent post on its website, CSA revealed that the damage was initially detected during a routine check carried out on May 12. The space agency also noted that the space junk was so small, and as a result, the ISS could not detect it.
"Despite the impact, results of the ongoing analysis indicate that the arm's performance remains unaffected. The damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket. Canadarm2 is continuing to conduct its planned operations, including hoisting Dextre into position to replace a faulty power switch box (Remote Power Control Module)," said CSA in a recent statement.
The statement also revealed that NASA and CSA will work together to gather data to conclude the analysis. CSA also made it clear that near-term robotic operations will continue as per plans.
The space debris issue should be addressed
Human-made trash on earth's orbit has been steadily increasing since the 1950s. On September 22, the International Space Station performed an avoidance maneuver to avoid a collision from small space junk. After performing the maneuver, NASA revealed that the maneuver was made possible by a joint operation by the Russian and US flight controllers. The United States space agency also urged nations for better management of space debris.
As per current estimation, more than 170 million pieces of space junk are floating in the earth's upper atmosphere, and out of this, NASA has succeeded in tracking just 22,000 pieces of space junk. If space debris continues to rise in the earth's orbit, it could increase the chances of possible collisions, sometimes even during a manned flight.