Space Junk: our real problem in space

Man has been known to leave behind everything he touches in a manner making it a tad untouchable. And while we seem to be running out of any earthly space to dispose of our garbage in, smart alecs who suggest that we use space have another thing coming: space is filled up too.

As physicist Michio Kaku puts it in his article on Big Think, ‘Forget Alien invasion—space junk is the real menace from space.The aftermath of the past fifty years of launching to a height as low as low earth orbit—and, of course, beyond—has been the end of the dreams of the famed minds who saw space as the ultimate dumping ground. As it turns out, even physicists now have a problem when it comes to sending things off to faraway places: they need to dodge the space junk floating around the earth much like a satellite (which is supposed to be there anyway.)

Now our problems do not end there. One look at the kind of horrifying things that we have categorised as junk will give us a clearer picture: we have things as small as few millimeters to things as big as booster rockets! There are paint flecks, metal shavings, gloves, screw drivers and wenches to name a few. And yet we have not seen the full consequences of these things out there.

But before we go into that, we can perhaps visualise how our earth might actally look from space (forget that computerised blue planet image from magazines and films.) This illustration released by the European Space Agency will paint a picture closer to the truth. Continue reading