Congested Extraterrestrial Highway: Space Trash!

Images generated from a distant vantage point providing a good view of the object population in the GEO region (around 35,785 km altitude).Source: NASA Orbital Debris Program

It’s no secret that we humans have always been fascinated by space and exploring the limits of the universe. But in doing so, we may be doing more harm than good.

Do you remember that scene in Wall.E where the camera pans over the Earth and as we get closer you see a ring of junk congesting the atmosphere? Well, it turns out that our current reality isn’t that far off . And not surprisingly, it’s a problem 100% caused by mankind.

In the 60 years since the Soviet Union launched the first space craft, all the subsequent launches have resulted in an enormous amount of space junk circling our planet. To make matters worse, the number of objects is increasing at an exponential rate, which in a mere two centuries could completely stop all forms of space travel.In this week’s episode we talk about these dangers, their origins, and more.

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Episode sources: 

Textual sources:

Documentaries / Video sources: 
ESA – space debris: journey to earth 2017
BBC – The trouble with space junk 2015
ESA – The space debris story 2013
Space Junk 3D documentary – 2012
TLC – Space: The Final Junkyard 1999
Natalie Panek: Let’s clean up the space junk orbiting earth – TED Talk

Real-time tracking “stuff in space”:

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