Space Junk



A communications satellite belonging to US company Iridium collided with a defunct Russian military satellite on February 12, 2009. According to NASA the satellites crashed into each other in an unprecedented collision, creating clouds of space debris which pose a slight risk to the International Space Station. The chief of Russia’s Mission Control says clouds of debris from the collision will circle Earth and threaten numerous satellites and the Federal Aviation Administration has received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas.


The image above is a computer-generated artist’s impression of the space debris currently orbiting the earth and you can view another impressive image at the MSNBC PhotoBlog. In researching this topic I also came across some interesting facts at the CBC website that helps put  this recent event in perspective:


600 – Pieces of debris estimated to have been released into space in the collision between the U.S. communications group Iridium Satellite LLC and a Russian Cosmos-2251 military satellite.


900 – Number of pieces of debris created when China destroyed its Fengyun 1-C satellite in January 2007.


100 years – Approximate amount of time debris in orbits that are more than 621 miles above the Earth’s surface will continue to travel around the Earth. Debris travelling in orbits below 372 miles falls to Earth after several years. At altitudes below 248 miles, the debris is likely to fall to Earth before it has even been detected or identified.


One in one trillion – Odds that a person will be struck and injured by a piece of space debris, according to the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies.


Here is one last fact to ponder: the earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old and it has been a mere 51 years since the launch of Sputnik.


You’ll have to excuse me now; my cell phone is ringing…..


Take our 4 question Space Survey – It will take less than one minute!

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5 Responses to Space Junk

  1. Adam says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post Donna.

    The generated image makes one pause thinking about all the debris orbiting our planet…

    • Donna says:

      Adam, I am glad you enjoyed it. Space debris is something we very often don’t even consider so seeing an image like that really drives it home. Did you view the image at MSNBCPhotoBlog? Treehugger also has a good one that shows how closely and densely surrounded the earth really is. There is also a space debris accumulation video from 1957-2000 posted at the ESA that is worth a look.

  2. Adam says:

    Scary when realisation kicks in of all that debris.

    Or are we turning a blind eye to it and saying it’s a problem for the next generation?

    I know the world is starting to go green…but this is something that very few are actually aware of.

    I have passed on your link to others too! 🙂

  3. CK says:

    I found your site when I was searching under “interesting blogs” and I must say I really enjoyed your post.

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