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 What is POEM?

  • POEM, in this context, stands for PSLV Orbital Experimental Module. 

  • It's an initiative by the ISRO.

  • Debris in space: Refers to human-made objects (satellites, rocket parts, etc.) left behind in orbit that pose a collision risk to operational spacecraft.

  • POEM: Aims to minimize debris

  • It involves using the fourth stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as a temporary platform for scientific experiments in space.

  • After completing the experiments, POEM is designed to safely re-enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up, leaving minimal to no debris behind.

What has POEM-3 achieved?

  • POEM-3, the third iteration of the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module.

  • Its Successfully achieved all its payload objectives, according to the ISRO.

  • Unfortunately, specific details about the payloads and their achievements aren't readily available from publicly accessible sources. 

However, we can infer some possibilities:

  • Scientific experiments: POEM-3 likely carried scientific experiments that required a microgravity environment

  • These experiments could have been in various fields like space physics, materials science, or biology. 

  • Their success would involve collecting the desired data and functioning as planned in orbit.

  • Technology demonstration: POEM-3 might have been used to demonstrate new space technologies like miniaturized satellites or innovative control systems. 

  • Success in this case would be proving the technology functioned as expected in space.

Why is this significant?

  • A key aspect of POEM (PSLV Orbital Experimental Module) is its design to minimize space debris. 

  • Unlike typical rocket launches that leave behind spent stages.

  • POEM-3 re-enters Earth's atmosphere and burns up.

  • This will reduce the amount of human-made objects cluttering space and posing a collision risk to operational spacecraft. 

  • POEM-3's successful mission in January 2024 demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach.

  • POEM-3 likely carried scientific experiments that required a microgravity environment

  • A successful mission implies these experiments functioned as planned and gathered valuable data that could contribute to advancements in various fields like space physics, materials science, or biology.

  • POEM-3 might have been used to test and demonstrate new space technologies

  • This could include miniaturized satellites, innovative control systems, or other advancements. 

  • A successful mission signifies that these technologies functioned as expected in space, paving the way for their potential future use in larger space missions.

  • While details are limited, POEM-3 potentially represents a step towards a reusable platform for microgravity experiments. 

  • Unlike dedicated satellites, using a reusable platform like POEM could be more cost-effective and allow for more frequent experiments.

How are space agencies dealing with debris? 

  • Space agencies are tackling space debris with a two-pronged approach.

  • 1) Mitigating future debris creation

  • 2) Actively removing existing debris. 

Here's a breakdown of their efforts:

Mitigating Debris Creation:

  • International guidelines like the "Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines" by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) set standards for limiting debris generation. 

  • These include requirements for passivating satellites after their lifespan (preventing explosions) and designing them for de-orbiting at

mission end (controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere).

  • Reinforcing spacecraft with shielding can minimize damage from small debris impacts, extending their lifespan and reducing the need for replacements that create more debris.

  • Designing rockets with fewer stages reduces the number of objects left in orbit after launch.

Actively Removing Existing Debris:

  • Several technologies are under development for removing existing debris. These include:

    • Harpoons and Nets: Techniques that grapple debris for deorbiting or controlled disposal.

    • Deorbit Sails: Attaching sails to debris that use

atmospheric drag to slow them down and cause re-entry.

  • Space Tugs: Robotic spacecraft that could capture and deorbit debris.

  • Lasers: Theoretical proposals for using lasers to vaporize small debris or alter their orbits.

  • Several space agencies are involved in missions to demonstrate debris removal technologies.

Examples include:

  • Successfully tested various capture technologies on dummy debris objects in low Earth orbit.

  • Planned mission to remove a defunct satellite from orbit using a robotic arm.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: POEM UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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