Sunday, July 20, 2008
Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of frozen russian poop, urine, food cartons, bags of trash
ESA have released information on the incredible content of the skies above our heads. In their press release they outline what exactly is littering orbital space around the Earth.
The image here shows the view from above the North Pole of all low Earth orbit objects as of January 2008. To observe the Earth, satellites must be in low orbits. At higher latitudes, the density of such objects increases.
Between the launch of Sputnik on 4 October 1957 and 1 January 2008, approximately 4600 launches have placed some 6000 satellites into orbit, of which only 400 lie beyond near orbits or on interplanetary trajectories. Today, it is estimated that only 800 satellites are operational. About 50 percent of all trackable space debris are due to in-orbit explosion or collision events.
We are adding around 200 objects a year into this picture!
Not to worry, most of the lower Earth orbit material will eventually fall back to earth at some 17,000 mph, stiking homes, cars and joggers alike. In reality, there have been only a few dozen cases of this actually happening, however, the reality exists that it could and will.