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   CaliforniaMama  Wednesday Sep 21 01:11 PM

September 21, 2011 Space Junk

Just how much junk do you think is floating out there in space?

You know me, I am so naive about such things. I thought there would be a little bit here and and a little bit there. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:


Low Earth orbit

And this:

High Earth orbit

But wait . . . Not all of this is space junk, or orbital debris, to be precise. These images show ALL man-made orbiting items over 10 cm, whether working or not.

To put it into perspective, this is ten centimeters:



As of July 2009, there were approximately 19,000 such objects in orbit. Most of these objects orbit close to the earth (top image). The lower image shows all the objects both in high and in low orbit.

via NASA Earth Observatory



newtimer  Wednesday Sep 21 08:18 PM

I can't wait until we get us some visible rings around Earth. Humanity will finally be able to look up, raise a middle finger to the night sky, and say, "Screw you, Saturn!"



ZenGum  Thursday Sep 22 02:50 AM

The good news is those dots are not to scale, and the bits of space junk are much smaller than they look there.

The bad news is, they're doing eleventymillion miles an hour (ok, 10-50,000 km/h more likely) and at that speed even a ball bearing would do terrible things to, say, the international space station.

The really bad news? This is all because NASA said to the TSA "Don't touch my junk".



ogwen69  Thursday Sep 22 07:54 AM

Aren't there plans afoot for a bigass space hoover?



Clodfobble  Thursday Sep 22 08:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenGum
The good news is those dots are not to scale, and the bits of space junk are much smaller than they look there.
Yeah, on that scale, every one of them would have to be as big as Delaware. The hard equator line is interesting, not just that they would group around the middle, which makes sense, but that they seem to group at a certain distance as well. I guess maybe counterforces of the moon and sun make that a particularly good distance to get stuck in orbit.


ZenGum  Thursday Sep 22 09:07 AM

I suspect that is the altitude of geostationary orbit. IIRC it is about 42,000 kms.

ETA: 32,786.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geostationary_orbit has cool gifs to show this.

Probably a lot of the dots there are satellites, not debris.

Quote:
I guess maybe counterforces of the moon and sun make that a particularly good distance to get stuck in orbit.
You might be thinking of Lagrange points.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrange_points


Clodfobble  Thursday Sep 22 09:16 AM

Ah ha! Very good point.



skysidhe  Thursday Sep 22 09:55 AM

This thread reminded me of the NASA satellite that is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Friday, Sept. 23. It's humongous, apparently.

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre...-space-debris/



Sundae  Thursday Sep 22 11:34 AM

I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them, but they were only satellites
Is it wrong to wish on space hardware?
I wish, I wish, I wish you'd cared...

(Billy Bragg, New England)



HungLikeJesus  Thursday Sep 22 11:44 AM

Meta four

To be on a satellite,
or on a ship that does a satellite become,
is to know the attraction for a planet,
but never to know the touch;
endlessly to fall -
and endlessly to miss.



infinite monkey  Thursday Sep 22 11:46 AM

Who ever knew space junk could be so boring?



Wombat  Thursday Sep 22 07:26 PM

The thing about space junk is that it's reaching the "tipping point": there is now enough space junk that collisions are inevitable, and each collision smashes junk into more pieces which means there will be more collisions... from this time onwards there will be an ever-accelerating runaway chain reaction of collisions, making "space" near Earth very crowded and therefore very dangerous. Houston, we have a problem.



SPUCK  Friday Sep 23 05:23 AM

Why can't all the space junk just get along?



HungLikeJesus  Friday Sep 23 09:58 AM

Don't touch my space junk.



TaraHarrison  Friday Sep 23 10:14 AM

Of course, as soon as this hit the news, twits were planking on 45th floor balconies and such.



HungLikeJesus  Friday Sep 23 10:16 AM

To see the space junk?



infinite monkey  Friday Sep 23 10:20 AM

Hi Tara!

I can't see your pictures, so I don't know what the twits are doing, but just that you called them twits...I do like the cut of your jib!

(Oh noes...next 'fad': jibbing. People will try to hang sideways from a pole, all the while waving in the wind...fapping, if you will.)




CaliforniaMama  Sunday Sep 25 09:50 AM

Quote:
But other pieces [of space debris] —old rocket segments jettisoned in orbit and abandoned spacecraft—fall toward Earth unguided. Last year one object a day, on average, made an unshepherded dive into the atmosphere, said NASA's Nick Johnson.

To date nearly 6,000 tons of human-made material have survived the fiery journey through our atmosphere, according to the Aerospace Corporation, a space-research center.
Quote:
A woman taking a late-night walk in Oklahoma in January 1997 saw a streak of light in the sky, then felt something brush her shoulder. It turned out to be part of a U.S. Delta II rocket launched in 1996—the only space debris known to have hit someone . . .
From: Space Debris: Five Unexpected Objects That Fell to Earth


monster  Sunday Sep 25 01:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by infinite monkey View Post
(Oh noes...next 'fad': jibbing. People will try to hang sideways from a pole, all the while waving in the wind...fapping, if you will.)

this was mentioned on the radio this week, it's called flagging -although that is meaning #5 of flagging in the Urban Dictionary

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=flagging


Gravdigr  Sunday Sep 25 03:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ogwen69 View Post
Aren't there plans afoot for a bigass space hoover?
That idea sucks.


infinite monkey  Monday Sep 26 09:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by monster View Post
this was mentioned on the radio this week, it's called flagging -although that is meaning #5 of flagging in the Urban Dictionary

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=flagging
Even the names of these uninspired acts are uninspired.


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