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.
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.
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).
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.
Members of the ISS crew climbed aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 capsule for about 10 minutes today as a precaution against space debris passing nearby. The threat was called off around 12:45 EDT.
There are 18,000 pieces of tracked space debris in orbit—and millions more smaller bits—all potentially fatal. To nudge them towards the atmosphere to burn up, one scientist proposes lasers, another proposes water.
The European Space Agency has just released images showing all the satellites and human-made debris now orbiting space as a result of 51 years of launching stuff since Sputnik. That's about 6,000 satellites up there—of which only 800 remain operational—plus thousands of other objects from launches and accidents.…