When we think of outer space, we imagine a vast area. Despite the fact that Earth is a mere speck in the larger universe, the magnetic force surrounding our planet is cluttered with orbital debris. Broken satellites, nuts, bolts, metal and other junk from space craft circle around our planet and has caused damage to space shuttles and the International Space Station. Some space junk even falls down like meteors, hot balls of fire that strike the Earth.
How is NASA and the rest of the international space community dealing with space junk? Explore the problem and their tactics below.
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Learn about orbital debris and see if you can guess where it all comes from.
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How many pieces of space debris are tracked as they orbit the Earth?
According to NASA’s 2013 estimate, more than 500,000 pieces of space junk are being tracked as they orbit the Earth at speeds of up to 17,500 mph — fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. In addition, there are are many millions of pieces of debris that are so small they can’t be tracked.
Small particles of space debris can damage spacecraft. True or false?
True. In fact, according to reports, space shuttle ground crews routinely find evidence of tiny space particles having dug themselves quite deeply into the shuttles windows after a mission.
Space debris can act like a sandblaster to spacecraft, eroding the body of the shuttles. What do engineers do to help combat this damage?
Apply a layer of metal foil to protect the body of the spacecraft.
Which device cannot be protected from orbital debris with a foil layer and get damaged over time?
All of the above. Solar panels and optical devices (such as telescopes or star trackers) cannot be protected the same way as the outer walls of a spacecraft.
Every device, craft and item in space has the potential to become space junk. True or false?
True. Anything left in space could eventually become trash.
Decay of space junk is possible. Where does orbital decay happen faster?
Lower altitude. At high altitude, there is little that can affect the debris, but pressure, atmospheric drag and the position of the moon can bring decay faster to orbital debris at lower altitudes.
Which of the items below is NOT a source of space junk?
Garbage from Earth. Broken spacecraft like the Vanguard I, rocket boosters, equipment and parts of satellites and spacecraft litter the atmosphere as space junk.
they should clean the space junk up
WOW that is cool!!!!!!
I got 100% because i’m more rossomer than you guys.
Wow!!! WHO WILL CLEAN IT UP?????????????
I cant bleav they did not clean it up yet
Who isn’t nuts about space?