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.
Humans clearly have a trash problem on Earth, but our track record isn’t that much better in outer space, where tens of thousands of stray debris fragments whip around the planet at rip-roaring speeds, posing a very serious danger to astronauts and satellites.
I wasn’t worried. Were you worried?
Earlier this week, the internet worked itself into a frenzy over the “mysterious chunk of space trash” — actually a spent rocket fragment — that’s making an ominous but not-at-all dangerous homecoming on a Friday the 13th in November. Wonder what that terrifying cosmic garbage will look like before it burns up in…
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??!?!?!
A rogue chunk of debris that orbited Earth far beyond the Moon is making a homecoming on November 13th, astronomers have concluded. WT1190F is one to two meters in length and probably hollow, but beyond that, we have no idea WTF the aptly-named piece of space garbage is.
January 1, 1963: This is what happens when a piece of space junk hits a spacecraft in orbit. While gorgeous, the energy flash of a hypervelocity impact packs a serious punch.
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.
Fellow space nerds, I come bringing sweet internet relief for the Monday doldrums. It’s stuffin.space, a real-time, 3D-visualized map of all objects looping around Earth, from satellites to orbital trash.
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.
Last week, the world was transfixed by the story of a gecko sex satellite that Russia lost contact with after it was knocked by some space debris. Apparently, it was the wake up call we needed as a species: Japan has announced the creation of a program aimed at monitoring space debris, a military-based project that…
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.
Space junk is a serious problem: it threatens satellites and spacecraft, and can plummet unpredictably to earth. Australia's Murchison Widefield Array is a high-sensitivity radio telescope that tracks space debris as small as 1 meter across, by observing how the objects reflect FM signals from Australian radio…
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…
The International Space Station is executing an evasive maneuver in a few hours, following the protocol for when there's more than a one in 10,000 chance of a space collision.
We know that at least one person has been hit by space junk. Her name is Lottie Williams and she was hit by a piece of a Delta II rocket that fell to earth in 1997.