This quarter-inch diameter chip was photographed by British astronaut Tim Peake from inside the Cupola module of the International Space Station. Alarmingly, it’s actually in one of the windows.
You think the trash problem in your city is bad? Try outer space. We humans have been littering our cosmic backyard with spent satellites, rocket hulls, and other discarded debris fragments for as long as we’ve had the technological know-how.
Satellites are built to endure decades in the most inhospitable conditions in the known universe. Paradoxically, engineers are now trying to figure out how to design them so that they do melt—planned obsolescence at 200 miles above the Earth.
You may be surprised to learn that a “mysterious object dubbed ‘WT1190F’” is headed directly for Earth. THIS IS TRUE. But scientists now have a pretty good idea what it is—and think it will probably burn up before it reaches the planet. ‘WT...F’ is coming??!?!?!
About two hours ago—at about 8AM EST this morning—a piece of an old Russian-built weather satellite sped by the International Space Station, dangerously close to the station. It’s the fourth time that astronauts aboard the ISS have “sheltered” because of space junk.
Something lit up the sky over a whole swath of the lower Eastern states last night, catching eyes all the way from Florida up through West Virginia. So what are we looking at here? A meteor, perhaps, or a fireball? Nope, it’s actually something a lot stranger.
2,465. That’s the number of satellites that are whipping gracefully around the Earth as you read this.
So far, governments have opted to deal with the problem of space junk by implementing policies to reduce the creation of more debris. But that alone won't cut it — we also need to be removing stuff from orbit. One way to cover the high costs of space junk disposal would be a $1 tax on every GPS chip in a smartphone.
Just what are all those tiny, swirling dots swooping gracefully around the Earth? Are those pinprick points the ghosts of far away stars? Perhaps they are the gaseous remains of some far away nebula? Or, maybe, it's just a giant orbital swarm of trash.
What goes up toward space can come crashing down again—in the plains of Texas and the deserts of Saudi Arabia, through barn roofs and into the Amazon. Check out these photographs of battered and decaying pieces of rocketry that are now merely space junk.
Hint: It probably won't involve astronauts.
Something must be done to deal with the estimated 100 million bits of man-made space junk circling the planet, and Japan is taking the lead. But can we do? Shoot it with a laser? Invent Wall-E-like robots to collect it? Nah… let's just blast a big net into space.
If you saw the movie Gravity, then you know that space debris can be deadly. Some scientists warn that the crud in Earth's orbit may have reached a dangerous "tipping point." But to prove the point, here's an image from artist Michael Najjar that shows every single piece of real-life junk in our orbit.
It's what the New York Times calls "the latest in a parade of spacecraft falling from the sky": the imminent crash of the European Space Agency's Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite (or GOCE).
Hit film Gravity offers a hyper-realistic portrait of life in space, including the possibility that an avalanche of space debris could be fatal. This is a real threat, so we'd better be ready. Here are ideas that scientists, engineers and other experts have proposed to reduce the space junk threat, and clean up our…
There's all kinds of asteroids and other debris cruising through space, but a lot of the really dangerous stuff is stuff we put there ourselves. NASA's cosmic bubble-spotting Fermi telescope almost had an intergalactic fender bender, but not with some epoch-old rock floating through the cosmos. No, it almost got…
Gassy outbursts from a suborbital rocket may be the cleanest way to get rid of hazardous space debris, suggests a new US patent application filed on 27 September by aerospace giant Boeing of Chicago.
At any given time, NASA is keeping track of about 16,000 pieces of space junk in Earth's orbit — and those are just the big chunks. This debris poses a serious safety hazard, primarily to operational satellites in the planet's orbit, but also to astronauts like those on board the ISS. In fact, according to some NASA…
After fifty years of space exploration, humanity has left well over 5000 tons of debris up there, and the ever growing pile of space junk poses a serious risk to spacecraft. Now there's a solution...and it's only slightly crazy.