Saturday January 18, 2020
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NASA Slams India’s A-SAT Test, Calls It A ‘Terrible Thing’

"We are charged with enabling more activities in space than we've ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition, whether it's pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3-D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you're not able to do in a gravity well.

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"That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the ISS," CNN quoted Bridenstine as saying at a live-streamed NASA town hall on Monday. Pixabay

 NASA has slammed India’s anti-satellite missile (A-SAT) test last week saying it has increased risk to the International Space Station (ISS) and may launch a race of sort among countries to repeat the feat.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday said the A-SAT missile’s successful targetting of a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO) within three minutes, that created at least 400 pieces of orbital debris, has increased risk to the ISS.

“That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the ISS,” CNN quoted Bridenstine as saying at a live-streamed NASA town hall on Monday.

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The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs though had in a statement made it clear that the test was conducted in “the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris” and “whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks”. Pixabay

Of the 60 pieces of debris that could be tracked, 24 went above the apogee of the ISS — the point of the space station’s orbit farthest from the Earth, the CNN reported on Tuesday.

“That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight,” he said. “When one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well.”

“It is not acceptable for us to allow people to create orbital debris fields that put at risk our people,” he added.

On March 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India has achieved a “historic feat” with A-SAT capability and has become a space power joining only three others — US, Russia and China — in an elite club.

The very next day, Bridenstine told the US House of Representatives Commerce Justice and Science Subcommittee that deliberately destroying a satellite and creating space debris was “wrong”.

NASA
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday said the A-SAT missile’s successful targetting of a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO) within three minutes, that created at least 400 pieces of orbital debris, has increased risk to the ISS. Pixabay

The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs though had in a statement made it clear that the test was conducted in “the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris” and “whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks”.

However on Monday, Bridenstine said the “test has increased the risk of small debris hitting the ISS by 44 per cent over the 10 days immediately afterward”, the CNN report noted.

“It’s unacceptable, and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is,” he added.

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“We are charged with enabling more activities in space than we’ve ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition, whether it’s pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3-D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you’re not able to do in a gravity well.

“All of those are placed at risk when these kind of events happen.”

Bridenstine also contradicted himself saying India’s test was conducted low enough and that “over time, this (debris) will all dissipate”, with the ISS and all astronauts on board safe. (IANS)

Next Story

Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industries Visible From Space: Study

Air pollution from oil, gas production sites visible from space

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Oil gas industry
Researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere. Pixabay

Oil and gas production has doubled in some parts of the United States in the last two years, as researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere.

“We see the industry’s growing impact from space, we really are at the point where we can use satellite data to give feedback to companies and regulators, and see if they are successful in regulating emissions,” said study lead author Barbara Dix from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers set out to see if a suite of satellite-based instruments could help scientists understand more about nitrogen oxides pollution (including nitrogen dioxide) coming from engines in US oil and gas fields.

Combustion engines produce nitrogen oxides, which is a respiratory irritant and can lead to the formation of other types of harmful air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, the research said.

Oil gas industry
On oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers. Pixabay

According to the researchers, on oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers.

The emissions of those engines are not controlled.

“Conventional ‘inventories’ meant to account for nitrogen oxides pollution from oil and gas sites are often very uncertain, underestimating or overestimating the pollutants,” said study co-author Joost de Gouw.

“And there are few sustained measurements of nitrogen oxides in many of the rural areas where oil and gas development often takes place,” Dix said.

So the research team turned to nitrogen dioxide data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board a NASA satellite and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TropOMI) on a European Space Agency satellite.

They also looked at gas flaring data from an instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi satellite system.

Between 2007 and 2019, across much of the US, nitrogen dioxide pollution levels dropped because of cleaner cars and power plants, the team found, confirming findings reported previously.

Also Read- Study Says, World’s Oceans Were Warmest in 2019

The clean air trend in satellite data was most obvious in urban areas of California, Washington and Oregon and in the eastern half of the continental US.

However, several areas stuck out with increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide: The Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford oil and gas basins, in Texas and New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas, respectively, the study said. (IANS)