Wednesday, May 14, 2008

363.7 Space Junk: Outta This World Pollution

Saw this on Posey Galore, a new visitor to my blog.

Part of me is totally fascinated by the picture. Part of me is sad because of what it shows.

On one hand, I feel better about the state of my work area, and even my dining room table. On the other hand, I feel guilty that I am as much of a slob in my world as we all appear to be in our world.
What is it? All the junk we (as in anyone who travels in space, sends things to space) have dumped in space! For the last 50+ years...since Sputnik. The photo originally came from the site European Space Agency (ESA). Please go to the site...there are several groups of photos that break down the "junk."
Some statistics from the explanation:
Since the launch of Sputnik on 4 October 1957, more than 4,600 launches
have placed some 6000 satellites into orbit. Currently about 800 satellites are
used operationally for science and other applications. Space debris comprise
the ever-increasing amount of inactive space hardware in orbit around the
Earth as well as fragments of spacecraft that have broken up, exploded or
otherwise become abandoned. The debris field comprises burnt-out launch
vehicle upper stages, dead or inactive spacecraft and other objects ranging
in size from as big as an automobile to microscopic dust.
Some books I found on the subject of space debris in our collection
Junk in space. Maurer, Richard. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c1989
Pollution in space. Asimov, Isaac. G. Stevens Pub, 1995.
Space garbage. Asimov, Isaac. Dell, 1991, c1989.
Space junk. Asimov, Isaac. Gareth Stevens Pub, c2006.
Space junk : pollution beyond the earth. Donnelly, Judy. Morrow Junior Books, c1990.

Some more online info
Space Junk
ABC Science & Society Space Junk presentation including an animation (large file!)
BBC Science & Nature Space Junk
See full animation (106K)
National Geographic Space Junk Cleanup Needed
Podcast: Space Junk

Ok, now to find the box of trash bags and the file boxes I have bought over the last several months!


melscales said...

Wow! That should make us all stop and think.

Zara said...

As an aerospace engineer, I should tell you that that the image shown here is completely exaggerated. Yes, we have many pieces of debris up in orbit, from tiny dust particles to actual spacecraft; however, this image does not show them to scale.

Each one of those "satellites" in the image represent the relative locations of actual pieces of debris but not their size.

No, we don't have satellites the size of Egypt. Even the International Space Station, the largest human-made object in orbit, is no bigger than a football field.

So, don't worry. The situation is not as bad as some people make it seem. Space is not cluttered.

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