More Than 500,000 Pieces of Debris, or ‘Space Junk’, Tracked as They Orbit Earth

More Than 500,000 Pieces of Debris, or ‘Space Junk’, Tracked as They Orbit Earth

Over 500,000 pieces of debris, or ‘space junk’, were tracked when they were orbiting the Earth. All of them travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph, sufficiently fast for a relatively tiny piece of orbital debris to harm a spacecraft or a satellite.

With the increase in the population of space debris, the possible danger to all space vehicles also increases, mainly to the International Space Station, space shuttles and other spacecraft that have humans aboard.

The US space agency NASA has taken the threat of collisions with space debris quite seriously. It has come up with a long-standing set of guidelines on how each potential collision threat can be dealt with.

The guidelines set by the agency belong to a bigger body of decision-making aids called flight rules. They specify when the likely proximity of a debris part increases the collision possibility enough, requiring evasive action or other precautions to ensure the crew safety.

Space debris includes both natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. Meteoroids are the particles that are present in orbit around the sun, whereas most of the artificial debris is in orbit around the Earth. Thus the latter is more usually referred to as orbital debris.

Orbital debris is defined as any man-made object present in the Earth’s orbit, which don’t serve a useful function anymore. The nonfunctional spacecraft, mission-related debris, abandoned launch vehicle stages, and fragmentation debris belong to orbital debris. There are over 20,000 pieces of debris bigger than a softball that orbit the Earth.

Telegram reported that, Right now, more than half a million pieces of man-made space junk orbit Earth, and if we don't' put a stop to the ever-growing clutter, it could become too dangerous for manned travel to space.

Our beautiful planet wasn't always like this. The overwhelming amount of space junk didn't start until after humans cracked the code on spaceflight and began sending satellites into orbit in the late '50s.
IBNLive report said, Planet Earth has been pursuing its interests in the space since 1957 and in the course of almost six decades, a lot of scientific discoveries have been made leaving behind debris which might take equal number of years to clean up.

In a new graphic created by scientist Stuart Grey and released by the Royal Institution of Great Britain demonstrates the alarming pace at which human is littering the space during exploration missions.
According to the BusinessInsider, Space junk accumulates because we don't clean up after ourselves. Instead of returning defunct satellites, we usually leave them out in space. But out there, they run the risk of colliding with meteors or other human-made debris, which is traveling at blazing speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour.

A single collision will completely obliterate a satellite and turn it into hundreds of smaller pieces.