Space junk keeps falling on my head …

Posted by Laura Grant on March 12, 2008
Posted in Green News

Satellite picture, NasaWe humans are a messy bunch, not only has our rubbish turned into a problem in our cities, but tons of it is whizzing around above our heads in space. There are now 9,000 pieces of space junk, weighing more than 5,500 tonnes, orbiting the Earth, according to Nasa. They range from an astronaut’s glove lost in a 1965 space walk by Ed White, to solar panels, cameras, pliers, bits of exploded space craft and God know’s what else, reports Britain’s Observer newspaper. It’s amazing that to date only one person seems to have been injured by falling space debris – an Oklahoma woman who was hit on the shoulder by a piece of a rocket’s fuel tank.

Some of the junk is very high up, about 36,000km above the Earth’s surface, in what’s known as geostationary orbit, which is apparently where communications satellites are programmed to hover. There are reportedly about 200 dead satellites in this part of space at present. But other bits of space trash are just a few hundred kilometres above Earth in low Earth orbit. Space experts warn that this debris proses the most problems. A space shuttle had a near-miss with a piece of old satellite in 1991 and, in 2006, pieces of another satellite came very close to hitting a passenger plane, reports the Observer.

Space experts now say that the space debris has reached critical proportions and is a risk to future space missions. We really do need to clean up our act.

Via :: The Observer

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