Around 9:30pm last night, residents of Northern California began reporting bright lights in the sky that could be seen as far away as Las Vegas. So far no one has any idea what they were.
It won’t be long now. In just a few short months, the long-standing debate—space harpoon versus giant butterfly net—will finally be settled by a good old-fashioned space trash collection contest. We’ve got ourselves a barn-burner here, folks.
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.
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.
How will we clean up the giant (and steadily increasing) trash vortex that swirls around our little blue planet? Perhaps by harpooning it with these space fishing nets.
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.
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…
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.
A Brazilian fisherman floating down the Uriandeua river in northern Brazil bumped into perhaps the last thing you'd expect to find in the Amazon: a huge chunk of metal that the UK Space Agency says came from the launch of Europe's largest telecom satellite last year. How in the hell did it get there?
Just 34 hours after the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1A spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket, it nearly smashed into a dead NASA satellite.
Hint: It probably won't involve astronauts.