JibJab always cram so much into their year reviews. Here are some of the things I picked out… there was the Egyptian uprising, the US shut-down, government spying (on the public and other governments/countries), YouTube’s most watched videoWhat Does the Fox Say? Toronto’s ‘unconventional’ mayor, the ISS got damaged (or maybe it was a reference to the film Gravity), there was a change of pope, the Philippines typhoon, gay marriage became accepted, there was a royal baby, Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, the release of the iPhone 5S, 5C and iOS 7, Miley Cyrus wrecking ball, Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post, famous deaths including Thatcher and Mandela, Blockbuster’s final shut down and the Harlem Shake craze.
I know I missed a few and there were some things the video didn’t feature, but I think it was a pretty good summary of 2013.
A couple of years ago 2 satellites collided destroying both of them, one had already been decommissioned but the other was a communication carrier that was still in use. Also recently, astronauts had to get in to the emergency escape capsule on the International Space Station as debris passed close by.
There are about 22000 big pieces of debris floating round the Earth and many more smaller but potentially equally damaging pieces, and the problem is the lack of international agreement upon the use of near space. Almost everything from Sputnik onward is still floating about up there. The Chinese military destroyed one of their disused military satellites in an experiment in 2007 but that just created thousands more potentially dangerous pieces. More of a political action than a potential solution.
Now maybe we can live with the odd collision now and again, but a related and really serious problem and the underlying cause, is our reliance on this technology. Scientists talk about potential damage from solar flares and the likes, that might even knock the entire system out for an undefined period of time. This would have catastrophic effects on the world, no Satellite navigation means no aeroplanes, ships navigating by the stars, emergency services having to rush out and buy maps of the city, UPS and their competitors losing their way, and even worse than all this Sainsbury’s not being able to deliver Mrs French’s vegetables on time.
Easy to take lightly but really quite a serious problem.
Dependence is a difficult thing to overcome, but scientists are experimenting with bringing old satellites back to Earth. A sort of Kite is being trialled that once attached to its objective slows it down so that it enters the atmosphere and burns up, but this must be seen against a backdrop of more satellites being launched every month. They are both commercially and militarily extremely important.
Who has the right to govern space though? Competition rules and it is big business.