FAREWELL TO OUR STARY NIGHT
— COLLECTION 2020 —
Since 2011, I became an "advocate" of my favorite recurring topics: "Reflections on space junk" and "Global Warming".
I have since become very determined to combine these topics in my work as a call to action and to bring to the attention of the public a knowledge of the degradation of our Cosmos and of our planet resulting from the confluence of the political environment, our skies increasingly endangered from our pollution of space with man-made objects, climate change and resultant extreme weather, the decimation of wildlife, and the loss of our starry nights.
The hope that my art projects is to raise awareness for a cause. This is a true emergency.
"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."
We are facing two major problems:
Light pollution is the brightening of the night sky by man-made illumination.
The brighter we make it artificially, the less we can see its actual wonders.
If we lose our access to the universe, we lose our ability to simply look up and imagine who we are, where we are and where we come from. What is this incredible blue planet in the cosmos? The more our imagination is limited by an increasingly limited perspective, the more we may lose our ability to creatively respond to challenges that humanity will face in the future.
Seeing clear nights as brilliant as nature intended has become harder throughout the years, due to the spread of man-made lights blocking out the stars above.
If you see fewer than 10 stars, this indicates severe light pollution, while anyone who spots over 30 means they have a dark sky above them.
"I want to get people out counting the stars and helping to save them now and for future generations to enjoy."
Takeover or conquest of our Space
60 years ago, space was spick-and-span. Then the "space race" began. Russia got out ahead with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 which provoked a great crisis of disbelief and envy in America, and also stimulated us to send the first man to the moon when Apollo 11 reached it in 1969.
The Moon rocks the astronauts brought back to Earth deservedly received the most attention, but the other experiments proved their worth as well from others exploration of Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 all carried an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments.
Subsequently, why is space junk such a problem?
Orbital debris is defined as any man-made object orbiting our planet that no longer serves a useful function. It can include non-functional spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicle stages and other junk produced by space missions.
From abandoned satellites, spacecraft that broke apart, and other missions 170 million pieces debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 670,000 debris 1–10 cm, and approximately 29,000 larger pieces of debris are in orbit. Debris, or "space junk", are tracked as they orbit the Earth and it poses a serious threat to humanity’s continuing efforts to explore space. The possible consequences are unthinkable. Just a few uncontrolled space crashes could generate enough debris to set off a runaway cascade of fragments, rendering near-Earth space unusable and which can threaten other spacecraft. "If we go on like this, we will reach a point of no return", says Caroline Frueh, an astrodynamics researcher at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
She cites the large constellations, or fleets of internet satellites that companies like SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb are planning to launch. In total, the companies plan to launch more than 100,000 satellites by the end of the decade. SpaceX has already rocketed nearly 900 new satellites into Earth's orbit since May 2019 of its Starlink internet satellites to low Earth orbit, and it has permission to loft about 12,000 of the craft…
A fixture of human spaceflight is going to be avoiding debris that could collide with your space station. We've seen orbital collisions already.
This scenario, known as the Kessler Syndrome, could make it hard to operate in Earth orbit if things get bad enough. The spaceflight community should therefore start taking mitigation measures now, many exploration advocates say.
Collecting space junk
Could turn out to be a lucrative venture. Some of the materials could go to the Moon and be repurposed there in mining or building, saving money from having new material launched from Earth.
Other space junk could be returned to the Earth and sold. Some companies may want to have their satellite that failed back to study what went wrong. And still other space junk could be auctioned to bidders as space souvenirs.
Is likely SpaceX will not resolve Space Junk by going to clean the orbits, they are POLLUTING the night sky for science. This is somebody's pipe dream.
The way to "clean up" the Earth's orbital environment, first of all LAUNCH LESS JUNK. Second of all, build a dozen ships like the X-37 autonomous space plane that will spend years at a time on orbit as a robot, cleaning up old Starlink satellites.
What's being done to reduce and clean-up space junk?
As for cleaning up the junk? Remediation technologies have not yet been tested in space. There's been demonstrations with magnets in Japan and deployable nets in England, which took place on Earth.
In December, the European Space Agency (ESA) commissioned the very first orbital debris clean-up mission, called ClearSpace-1.
Their plan is to launch a multi-armed robot in 2025 to scoop up a chunk of old European rocket, a mission estimated to cost $130 million. The debris and the clean-up robot would self-destruct upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
Meanwhile, each individual nation is managing the risk that space junk poses to hardware and to human life.
As more countries around the world build up their space capabilities, U.S. lawmakers are keen to address the growing issue of potentially harmful debris in orbit. But while policies have attempted to tackle the problem, no major strides have been made. "As more countries and companies field space capabilities, it is in everyone's interest that they act responsibly and that the safety and sustainability of space is protected", Cunningham said. "A widely-subscribed International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities can encourage responsible space behavior, help to reduce the risk of debris, and increase transparency of space operations".
Such an agreement does not yet exist. The first tentative attempt was under the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and I sincerely hope that our new President Joe Biden will pronounce that the United States will work with other nations to develop an international code of conduct, so long as it does not conflict with the country's national security priorities.