The Quirky Globe
Strange, unusual, lighthearted and humourous news from around the world.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Space junk is littering Earth's orbit....
What is space junk and why should we be worried?
Space experts are increasingly worried about the amount of 'space junk' in orbit - but what is space junk?
Space junk: a conceptual artwork representing defunct satellites, failed missions, and shrapnel orbiting a few hundred miles above Earth.
Photo: Science Photo Library
12:00PM GMT 01 Feb 2011
junk is the term used to describe man-made rubbish floating in space – often litter from space exploration, including spanners, nuts, bolts, gloves and shards of space craft.
- The majority of the debris in space is believed to consist of small particles but some objects are larger, including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites and collision fragments.
- As many as ten million pieces of human-made debris are estimated to be circulating in space at any one time.
- Experts believe that global positioning systems, international phone connections, television signals and weather forecasts could be affected by increasing levels of space junk.
- The windows of space shuttles are often chipped by space junk when returning to earth.
- The orbital paths of space shuttles are constantly monitored for debris
- A crash between a defunct Russian Cosmos satellite and an Iridium Communications Inc. satellite in February 2009 left around 1,500 pieces of junk whizzing around the earth at 4.8 miles a second.
- The International Space Station is fitted with special impact shield known as the Whipple Bumper, which is designed to protect the structure from damage caused by collisions with minor debris.
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