This book explores the opportunities, the potential and the hazards of Earth's immediate space environment. It covers the physical characteristics of this portion of space, the influence of deeper space, observing and forcasting tools, the problem of space debris, the evolution of satellites, the different orbits and their uses, Earth's place in the solar system and its influence on climate and weather, the sun and its action on our planet, asteroid and comets and the means to detect them, laws and regulations, the political actors and role of nations.
by EPFL Press
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Introduction. Setting the scene. Characteristics of our space environment (Near-vacuum - Zero-g or microgravity - Other features of the Earth gravity environment - Radiation balance - Radiation and particle flux from the Sun and the Galaxy - The Earth's magnetosphere). Utilization of our space environment for practical purposes, science and exploration. Rewards and Power of Space. Unweiling the mysteries of cosmic lights (Incredible Solar System - What has space taught us? The mysteries of darkness - Plurality of worlds and universality of life). Observing Earth's skeleton and skin, surveying its health, monitoring its aging (Observing tools - Forecasting, facing, and managing Earth - First steps toward a global space governance for Earth monitoring). Influence of outer space on the Earth. The Sun (Living 8 light-minutes away from a cosmic nuclear furnace - The magnetic active star - Sun's influence on Earth: the Carrington even - Space Weather)- 3.2 Weather and Climate (The four step dance of planet Earth - Sunlight influence on climatic modulations - The Sun and the atmosphere: a vital interaction - The influence of volcanic and solar activities- Future natural climate influence). Asteroids and Comets, (The Near Earth Object Impact Hazard - Observation, Detection, and Impact Prediction- Preventing an Impact - Way forward?). Impact of human activity on the near space environment. Space Debris (What is space debris? - What do we know, how much space debris is there? - Why is space debris a problem? - What are the immediate countermeasures? - Where does the data come from? - Protecting the space environment - an international endeavor - Predicting the future - Long-term sustainability of outer space activities - International policies and requirements). Opportunities and limits for actors. Int