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Waste in Space

WHY IT'S A SERIOUS PROBLEM WASTE IN SPACE Traveling at such hyper velocities, any particle of space junk presents a considerable threat to spaceflight for any nation. And with more hardware flying around Earth's orbit, the potential of collisions between spacecraft and large orbital trash only continues to grow. Currently, a thick band of levitating space junk-composed primarily of broken satellite pieces and discarded rocket boosters-skirts the Earth. Two or three times a day, a satellite circling our planet narrowly misses a torrent of the orbital debris. This phenomenon has jeopardized not only current space travelers, but future missions as well. FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF SOUND The speed of sound travels at approximately 768 mph on a normal day. In order to remain in orbit, the fragments in space have to move along at least 20 times that speed, and can go up to almost 18,000 mph. WHAT IS SPACE DEBRIS? Nonfunctional, human-made materials in orbit caused by everything from spent booster stages TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT to satellite collisions and explosions. LESS THAN About 1,000 times a day. satellites and 5 MILES debris pass less than 5 miles from 73% each other. Considering how expansive space is, this distance is striking. of tracked debris reside in low-Earth orbit (LEO), 1,200 miles above our planet's surface. COLLISIONS & EXPLOSIONS INCREASE DEBRIS CHINA'S ANTI-SATELLITE MISSION In 2007, China intentionally destroyed one of their weather satellites in space, and the event led to a HOW MUCH SPACE JUNK IS UP THERE? The amount of space debris larger than four inches in diameter in Earth's orbit being tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network: 900-piece cloud of debris. More than 21,000 THE FIRST MAJOR IMPACT February 10, 2009: objects 4 inches The 15,000 mph collision of the private Iridium 33 satellite and Cosmos 2251, a Russian military spacecraft, left a trail of approximately 2,000 pieces of low-Earth orbit debris. 500,000 objects Estimated amount larger than one centimeter in diameter-or the size of a marble. Together, these two more than events combined 60% increased the EARTH There are another tens of millions of number of debris in paint chip-like pieces that measure smaller than a centimeter. low-Earth orbit by That's taking into account everything that has accumulated over the past 50 years. A COLLABORATION BETWEEN GOOD AND COLUMN FIVE SOURCES: NASA, WALL STRE ET JOURNAL, U.S. SPACE SURVEILLANCE NETWORK, SPACE.COM, UNIVERSETODAY.COM, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, ESA DEBRIS OFFICE

Waste in Space

shared by rmmojado on Mar 25
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Currently, a thick band of levitating space junk—composed primarily of broken satellite pieces and discarded rocket boosters—skirts the Earth. Two or three times a day, a satellite circling our pl...




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