It’s Not Just the Oceans that Need a Cleanup

Garbage. It’s a familiar, man-made problem. On land and in the oceans. But it’s not just the land and the oceans that need a cleanup. Garbage is an orbital problem. A Growing Problem Accompanying the September 12, 2009 NASA Image of the Day (above) was a statement. “Approximately 19,000 manmade objects larger than 10 centimeters orbit the Earth.” By 2013 NASA reported more than 500,000 pieces of space junk were being tracked. According to National Geographic, as of January 2019, more than 128 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in or approximately the  diameter of AAA battery), about 900,000 pieces of debris 1–10 cm (up to the length of a regular crayon or the diameter of drink coaster) and around 34,000 of pieces larger than 10 cm were estimated to be in orbit around the Earth. This amounts to close to 6,000 tons of materials in low Earth orbit. It’s expensive to remove space debris from orbit. And there are no international space laws that require space agencies to clean up debris in LEO. So LEO is the world’s largest junk yard. Houston. We’ve got a space junk problem. Who Tracks Orbiting Garbage? In cooperation with NASA, the Space Surveillance Network a group […]