This post credited in it’s entirety to: The Big Zowie
Next time you’re out on the street polling the average American about environmental concerns, you’ll probably get most people responding, “somewhat” to “very concerned” about trash littering our streets and highways as environmental pollution. And with good reason. If you drive along almost any highway in America and most rural roads, you’ll see objects d’pollution practically everywhere you look; plastic cups, beer cans, potato chip wrappers and a vast array of bottles, glass or plastic, in almost every possible configuration. Yep, people’s trash is everywhere and it isn’t pretty.
But trash isn’t necessarily dangerous. It’s just unsightly. Now poll those same people on the street again and ask them if they’re worried about trash in space – or, what the better informed refer to as Space Debris…what?? That’s right. Junk floating around in space, plastic cups, beer cans, potato chip wrappers…okay, maybe not. But believe it or not, there is a terrific amount of trash floating around in low Earth orbit, and it’s very dangerous!
It’s so dangerous in fact, we have a national office of space junk. Actually NASA refers to it as the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, located at the Johnson Space Center. It’s the lead NASA center for orbital debris research. More than 21,000 pieces of orbital debris larger than 10 cm are known to exist. The estimated population of particles between 1 and 10 cm in diameter is approximately 500,000. The number of particles smaller than 1 cm exceeds 100 million.
Okay, that’s a lot of junk floating around up there. But dangerous? Why would it be dangerous? Well not necessarily to us down here, but can you imagine flying around up there in the Space Shuttle, or the ISS (International Space Station) having to constantly duck under flying debris?
And you better duck, because according to NASA: “In low Earth orbit (below 2,000 km), orbital debris circle the Earth at speeds of 7 to 8 km/s. However, the average impact speed of orbital debris with another space object will be approximately 10 km/s.” That’s much faster than a speeding bullet! Read the rest of this entry »