Space is polluted!

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The number of space debris circling the Earth is increasing. According to experts, this pollution must be reduced in order to prevent collisions from occurring in the coming decades between debris and other objects orbiting the Earth.

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Last week took place the 6e European Conference on Space Debris. On this occasion, experts met to discuss the problem of debris polluting space. According to NASA, since 1978 the number of space debris has tripled and today there are more than 23,000 orbiting the Earth. These would essentially be pieces of rockets, end-of-life satellites and even tools lost by astronauts.
Experts estimate that in a few decades, these pollutants may collide with satellites also orbiting the Earth. The International Space Station would also be threatened. One solution adopted to counter these harmful effects would be to clean up the space. The players in the space industry suggest clearing space of the largest debris, at the rate of 5 to 10 objects each year in order to stabilize the situation.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Prepare an information search on the Web by identifying the keywords and sources to consult;
- Use the Internet to find information on space pollution;
- Read articles on space pollution and compose questions based on the information discovered;
- Understand what the international space station is and the experiments carried out there;
- Pilot the robotic arm of the international space station using a simulator;
- Describe the functioning of the solar system;
- Understand that the phenomenon of the seasons arises from the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Space pollution

To start, have students research the Internet about the problem of space pollution.
Before carrying out their research, students must prepare it, in particular by identifying the keywords to be entered in the search engine. Also, certain sources to be consulted on the Internet can be identified. As a large group, list these items and write them on the board. Then students can search the web for information. If necessary, share the list of links in the section More about the magazine.
What did the students discover about the phenomenon of space pollution?
Ask them the following questions to verify what they found as information:
- When did a collision between 2 satellites over Siberia occur?
- What should happen to a satellite at the end of its life to prevent it from causing a collision?
- In 2007, which country increased the number of debris by testing anti-satellite missiles that pulverized a weather satellite into 150,000 pieces?
Finally, have students formulate other questions in teams. They can then exchange them with other teams to answer them.

ACTIVITY 2: The International Space Station

For this second activity, since the International Space Station would potentially be threatened by pollutants, discuss this one as a large group. What do students know about this?
Ask them the following questions:
- What is the International Space Station for?
- Are there any astronauts who live in this station?
- Can you name people who have already stayed there?
Go to the website of canadian space agency and learn about the experiments that are underway on the International Space Station.
Finally, still on the Agency's website, invite students to pilot the robotic arm of the International Space Station by completing the simulation game.

For further

Have students describe the orbits of the planets and moons in our solar system. Watch this animation in order to understand the solar system.
Finally, what phenomenon results directly from the fact that the Earth revolves in orbit around the Sun?
Clue: equinox and solstice.

More about the magazine

The "cleaning" of space becomes urgent
Agence France-Presse, April 25, 2013
Pollution victim, the space must be cleaned
Le, April 25, 2013
Space pollution risks hampering orbital activity
Le, April 25, 2013
Space pollution is a problem
Les, April 25, 2013
Reduce pollution in space, July 12, 2005
Space is increasingly cluttered with debris!
RFI, September 13, 2011

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Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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