SPACE GARBAGE

I don’t have much for Friday Science this week mostly because I’ve been lazy (food coma). Friday Science is more of a rant than any thing useful. When people talk of colonizing the moon, I get more than a little irritated. It comes down to the inability of people to clean up after themselves. We’ve trashed this planet, why not move on and trash another planet? The Earth is still at a good clean up point. If we all did our part and cleaned up after ourselves, Earth wouldn’t be so trashy. Yet even though we haven’t colonized the moon, space has become cluttered with garbage. Currently there are 9,000 pieces weighing over 5,000 tons of manmade stuff orbiting earth. 5,000 tons of garbage! The figure encompasses discarded rocket bodies and defunct satellites. Eventually this stuff will fall into the atmosphere and burn up, but it’s not happening fast enough. The garbage is a serious collision risk for commercial satellites and research missions (like NASA’s mission to Pluto). Even if we don’t launch anything new into space, fragments of space garbage that break off from periodic collisions will increase the amount of debris floating around up there.

NASA is currently looking into ways to clean up the mess. So far one of the proposed options includes zapping the garbage out of orbit with ground-based lasers.