The Danger Of Space Debris

1742 WordsOct 23, 20147 Pages
The Danger of Space Debris Every time humans put a new satellite or orbital body into low earth orbit, space gets just a bit messier. Ejected rockets and broken pieces of debris litter the geosynchronous orbit of our planet, and each and every shard of metal that orbits earth proves a hazard to our satellites and astronauts currently in space. This problem has been growing for decades, and even scientists in the 1970s cared about the rapidly growing space debris problem. Even though the problem has been known for about 45 years, only minimal steps have been taken to reduce the ever-growing blanket of metal that surrounds our planet. According to a count by ESA and NASA, there are more than 23,000 items in orbit that are bigger than 10 centimeters (four inches) across, and hundreds of thousands of items between one and 10 centimeters (0.4 to four inches) across. Most of these pieces reside within 2000 km of the earth, and within this range the highest density of space debris is between 750 and 850 km [1]. The biggest question is, where does all of this space debris come from? We as a planet haven’t collectively launched hundreds of thousands of items out into our orbit, so how can our planet have become so messy? The one thing we have done is launched hundreds of satellites into orbit, which leave their own debris in the form of disposed rocket stages and oftentimes the payload after it dies or becomes unusable. These very large objects have the potential to collide or be
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