Snippet: Space Debris is Becoming a Serious Problem, but Google Earth is Watching

Space junk as plotted in the Google Earth software.

Every time a rocket launches, a spaceship orbits, an astronaut drops some trash or the US blows up a satellite, debris is created. Space debris (a.k.a. space junk) is a nasty side-effect of our push into space, but it isn’t a recent phenomenon. Even the early Gemini missions in the sixties did it, as does the ultra-efficient International Space Station – bits of spacesuits, cameras, nuts, bolts and tools are accidentally (and deliberately) dropped into the vacuum. But it’s only a bit of litter right? Wrong. That’s a hyper-velocity rifle shot, and it’s coming to a spaceship very soon, if we don’t take action now…

…another article for you, this time about our litterbug issues in orbit and Google’s ability to find uses where we didn’t realise there was a use. Google Earth can track the known bits of orbital debris with surprising accuracy by using a handy plugin developed by researchers in the Republic of Slovenia. See the full article at the Universe Today, and take the hint: when in space, the penalty for littering will be hitting your spaceship in a few orbits time…

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