Images of Space Debris, Oh My!

April 20, 2008 at 3:25 pm (frightening things) (, , )

Treehugger notes that the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has published a disturbing article about space junk. Summary: there’s a lot more of it than most of us would imagine, and here’s a scary picture to prove it.

Treehugger also takes the next step and breaks down the contents of our pollution of space for us after taking a look at the European Space Agency website

According to ESA’s resident space debris expert, Walter Flury, the 10,000 pieces of space litter catalogued at the end of 2003 break into the following categories:

  • 41% — miscellaneous fragments

  • 22% — old spacecraft

  • 13% — mission related objects

  • 7% — operational spacecraft

  • 7% — rocket bodies

Doing the math, that is 93% pure junk and only 7% useful satellites circling the earth. More disturbing, 50,000 uncatalogued objects larger than 1 cm (the largest size which modern shielding can likely deflect) are estimated to be spinning through space at hypervelocities.

And as Treehugger makes sure to remind us, yes: humans may be at serious risk because of this clutter. No, really.

Good luck with tonight’s sleep, all fellow wonder-worriers, and kiss your “iconic view of Earth” goodbye.

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