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Light pollution and Issues

Published: 31st Mar, 2023

Context

Scientists have warned that artificial light and satellite constellations are an unprecedented global threat to nature and cultural heritage.

  • The satellites also pose a challenge to space debris as more and more junk piles up after a satellite's end of its mission.

About Light Pollution:

  • Light pollution would be familiar to most people as that light dome that appears over populated areas that become visible, especially when you go outside of that populated area and look back towards it.
  • That dome that you see is an amalgamation of all the light sources that have been exposed to the exterior environment.
  • Causes:

India’s first site for dark reserve:

  • A part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary at Hanle in Ladakh is all set to become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
  • The site will also promote astronomy tourism, giving a boost to local tourism through science.
  • Skyglow, also known as light pollution, is the brightening of the night sky as the result of excessive and inappropriate artificial lighting.
  • Light pollution is an increasing problem threatening astronomical facilities, ecologically sensitive habitats, wildlife, and energy use.

About Space Debris Problem:

  • Space debris is the thousands of fragments from old rocket parts or disintegrated satellites that litter space - principally in Earth's orbit.
  • There are more than 23,000 pieces of debris larger than 10cm (4in) and the US Space Surveillance Network tracks most of them, according to NASA’s Orbital Debris Programme Office (ODPO).
  • Most of that debris is zipping around within 1,250 miles of the Earth's surface, along with more than 2,000 artificial satellites, as well as the International Space Station.

How much is India responsible for?

  • India still produces much less space junk than the top three polluters: Russia, the US, and China, according to ODPO data.
  • Indian-made space debris, however, is on the rise - from 117 pieces in 2018 to 163 in 2019.

What is being done to tackle space debris?

  • Project NETRA is an early warning system in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.
  • In 2022, ISRO set up the System for Safe and Sustainable Operations Management (IS 4 OM)to continually monitor objects posing collision threats, predict the evolution of space debris, and mitigate the risk posed by space debris.
  • The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), an international governmental forum, was established in 1993 to coordinate efforts between spacefaring nations to address the issue of space debris.
  • The United Nations has established the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) to develop guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including the mitigation of space debris.
  • And in 2025, the European Space Agency will launch the first space mission to remove debris from Earth's orbit.

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