Skip to comments.Spacejunk in Earth's atmosphere revealed
Posted on 04/15/2008 5:25:20 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
It's more than 50 years since Russia signalled the start of the space race with the launch of Sputnik One.
For more than two decades from 1957 the Soviet Union and the USA competed in a battle to be the first to the stars.
The race ended in 1969 when the US delivered the coup de grace by landing Neil Armstrong safely on the Moon.
Now space flights are commonplace and Sir Richard Branson will soon be taking the first tourists on sub-orbital flights on his craft SpaceShipTwo.
In 1964 the first TV satellite was launched into a geostationary orbit in order to transmit the Olympic games from Tokyo.
Since then hundreds of communication satellites have been launched and Earth's atmosphere still bears the scars.
A European Space Agency (ESA) computer-generated picture shows a view from space with the planet surrounded by a snowstorm of space debris.
Computer-generated image of trackable objects currently in orbit around the Earth
Much of it is junk with telecommunications equipment that once cost millions now past its sell-by date yet still in orbit.
ESA says the number of objects in Earth's atmosphere has risen steadily increasing by 200 per year on average and that there are now 600 working satellites.
Collisions, explosions and lost or discarded material from space flights and rockets has resulted in the atmosphere resembling a junk yard with potentially millions of pieces of metal travelling in permanent orbit 20,000 miles above the Earth.
Whoever dies with the most junk in space wins? ;)
(Though there are those who claim this is "urban legend"...)
Bump to orbit later!
Hopefully we have enough ‘junk’ in orbit, so that if an ASTEROID heads our way, it will bounce off the junk, and careen off into space .
“One of those has the remains of the poor cosmonaut that the Russians left up there when they couldn’t get him back.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if this was true. Any links?
the objects at 20,000 miles that this article is referring too are objects in geosynchronous orbit. my sensors mission is to track said objects. geosync is populated mostly by telecomm birds because the time it takes an object to complete and orbit is the same amount of time it takes the earth to complete an orbit. it keeps the objects over the same spot throughout its orbit. that makes sure that when we are watching the superbowl it doesnt cut out every 10 minutes.
“Um, the atmosphere doesent extend to 20,000 miles.”
Agreed. This is so sad though. I had thought that science training in the British primary schools was more rigorous than this. Even out here in the woods in Colorado, our second graders are aware of this. It would also appear that the journalistic standards in Britain have kept pace with their primary schools.
I BIG bottle of Head and Shoulders ought to do the trick.
The author seems to not know where the atmosphere ends. Frankly, this is a terribly old and rehashed news item. I guess saying “Space junk in the Atmosphere!” is more exiciting than saying, “Space junk in orbit!”
Don't worry. Apparently, he's on a secret space station, so it's kind of hard to get away with sending anything other than supply craft. Nothing about bone loss either.
If I didn't get the email personally, then I read it, and about Nigerian email scams around the turn of the millennium.
I’d really like to get the Hasselblad camera lost on one of the Gemini missions.
Just think. One of those has the remains of the poor cosmonaut that the Russians left up there when they couldn't get him back.
Sputnik 4 re-entered over Wisconsin in 62'. There was supposedly a "dummy" in it but there are supposedly distress messages that emanated from it.
Second graders in the U.S. might be aware, but Time Magazine said more than a decade ago, "The threat is too grave to need scientific justification for corrective measures."
Perhaps, the "computer-generated picture" is the focus of the article.
NASA has a really cool animated version that allows you to click on any satellite and see a brief on the Sat (launch date, type, orbit inclination, altitude, country of origin, etc.). I have the site bookmarked. :-)
This was told to me in the early 70s by a man with ties to the military side of our space program — that the Russians had a Cosmonaut in orbit who they could not retreive. The Americans were monitoring the radio communications and (or so this tale goes) listened to the panicing flyer as he pleaded with Soviet ground control to save him. Eventually the Cosmonaut ran out of air and died in orbit.
Have never been able to find confirmation. The guy was probably pulling my leg (?).