By Michael Franco
Outer space is getting very very messy. A new video hammers
home just how dramatically our space litter is accumulating.
If you somehow had a way to rocket into space prior to October 4, 1957, and look back on the Earth, you would have seen that it was a planet with nothing but the vastness of space surrounding it (well, and whatever magic capsule you were in). Fast forward to today, and that look back at our planet is very different. Since the Russian satellite Sputnik launched on that October day 58 years ago, we’ve sent thousands of other objects into orbit around our planet, resulting in an ever-growing storm of space junk surrounding Earth.
A recent YouTube video from Stuart Grey, a lecturer at University College London, shows, in one striking minute, just how dramatically we’ve littered the space around Earth over the last six decades. Grey used data from Space-Track.org, a group that monitors space debris, to build his model.
According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program, there are currently over 21,000 pieces of space junk that are larger than 10 cm (about 3.9 inches) circling our planet. In the 1-10 cm (about .4-4 inches) in diameter range, there are about 500,000 pieces, while debris measuring less than 1 cm exceeds 100 million. And if you think those tiny particles are nothing to worry about, think again. The particles can travel at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour (about 28,163 kilometers per hour), making them quite hazardous. […]