Space debris is a problem – and the mystery object set to plummet to Earth in November is a good reminder as to why.
Spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey, due to its parameters, object WT1190F (are the letters WTF here accidental? We somehow doubt it) is believed to be part of a lunar-bound spacecraft by scientists.
It is set to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on November 13, and whatever doesn’t burn up will plummet into the Indian Ocean.
As ROOM author Christopher J. Newman argued earlier this year, a new space ethics today is essential for assigning responsibility when it comes to dealing with space debris.
WT1190F serves as a good illustration to the reason why space debris has yet to be tackled in an effective manner – there is usually room to pass the buck, as there is no binding legislation in place that would force all space players to track space debris/mitigate the problems it poses.
And although scientists insist that WT1190F poses no threat to anyone on the ground, its re-entry promises to be dramatic – involving a bright fireball, according to ESA.
At the very least, the fact that we’ve been able to track the object means that re-entry won’t serve as a surprise.