space junk

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Our Space Junk Problem Is Only Getting Worse

First mission is planned to reduce debris, but it could backfire

(Newser) - Decades' worth of man-made junk is cluttering up Earth's orbit, posing a threat to spaceflight and the satellites we rely on for weather reports, air travel, and global communications. More than 750,000 fragments larger than a centimeter are already thought to orbit Earth, and each one could badly... More »

Japan to Smack Space Junk With 2.3K-Foot Whip

If all goes well, a 6-mile tether could follow

(Newser) - Can a whip as long as six football fields destroy some of the 500,000 pieces of space junk spinning around Earth at 17,500 miles per hour? Japan's space agency sure hopes so. JAXA launched its Kounotori 6 spacecraft on Friday with tons of supplies bound for the... More »

Adopt a Piece of Space Junk, Get Its Tweets as It Flies By

Nearly 30K objects larger than 10cm are currently in orbit

(Newser) - The jury may be out on intelligent extraterrestrial life, but this we know: We are not alone. At least, we are surrounded by our own junk. In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of the hundreds of millions of pieces of debris currently orbiting planet Earth, an interactive... More »

Weather Officials Explain Fireball in Western Sky

Thank the Chinese for this 'space junk'

(Newser) - A fireball in the sky Wednesday night led to a firestorm online and over the phone lines, CBS Los Angeles reports, with California residents up and down the coast—as well as in Las Vegas and as far away as Utah—reporting the odd celestial phenomenon. The light flashes, captured... More »

Mysterious Space Balls Crash Land in Vietnam

'If they were launching a rocket, where’s the rest of it?'

(Newser) - Vietnam is being bombarded with space balls, and we aren't talking about a rerelease of the 1987 Mel Brooks classic. The CBC reports three metal balls—weighing a half-pound, 13 pounds, and about 99 pounds respectively—crash-landed in two Vietnamese provinces over the weekend. One of the balls—the... More »

Video Reveals How Fast We've Amassed Space Junk

In just 60 years, Earth has become surrounded by 500K pieces of debris

(Newser) - More than 500,000 known objects are orbiting planet Earth, and around 20,000 of them are at least as big as a softball, reports NASA . Now a University College London professor has used data from to create a video to help us visualize how quickly that space... More »

Mystery Space Junk to Strike Earth on Friday the 13th

NASA is tracking its descent

(Newser) - An unknown object is falling from the sky—WTF?? Actually, astronomers refer to it as WT1190F and say it's destined to strike Earth on Friday the 13th next month, CBS San Francisco reports. Bill Gray, an expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., says the unknown... More »

Object 40077 'Belly Flops' Over Australia

Fireball was the third stage of Russia's Soyuz rocket

(Newser) - A few Australians might have assumed the worst last night as a truck-sized fireball raced across the sky. But it wasn't a meteorite spelling out Earth's doom—or the plane crash some feared on Twitter—but "object 40077," an ejected piece of Russia's Soyuz rocket,... More »

Space Junk Solution: Fire Lasers at It

Australia prepares to deal with 300K pieces of debris

(Newser) - Space is full of debris, scientists say—about 300,000 pieces of it—and it's putting our satellites at risk. We could be "a couple of decades away from a catastrophic cascade of collisions ... that takes out all the satellites in low orbit," says researcher Matthew Colless.... More »

Japan to Tackle Space Junk With ... Giant Net

It's magnetic, and first trial run starts next month

(Newser) - The amount of dangerous junk floating around in space is by all accounts getting out of control . Next month, Japan's space agency will try to do something about it with a novel idea: It's launching a huge magnetic net, reports the South China Morning Post . The contraption is... More »

Experts Want to Fight Space Junk With Harpoons

Garbage collisions in space risk starting chain reaction

(Newser) - Experts want to use nets and harpoons to haul in space junk threatening the $100 billion worth of satellites currently in orbit round Earth. What sounds like a cosmic fishing trip is part of a raft of proposals to come out of a global conference on space debris ending today... More »

North Korea Satellite Died Just After Launch

It's dead and tumbling in orbit, astronomers say

(Newser) - The Kwangmyongsong satellite North Korea sent into orbit last week has already become just another piece of space junk, experts believe. Astronomers say the satellite is tumbling in orbit and failing to emit broadcasts, signs that it probably died soon after the launch, the New York Times reports. The washing-machine-sized... More »

Space Junk Forces Astronauts to Take Shelter

They're safe and sound after chunk of debris passes by

(Newser) - A discarded chunk of a Russian rocket missed the International Space Station early today. However, it came close enough to force six astronauts to seek shelter in escape capsules. The two Americans, three Russians, and a Dutchman woke early and went into two Soyuz vehicles ready to rocket back to... More »

Swiss 'Janitor Satellite' to Clean Space Junk

It will push defunct satellites into the atmosphere to burn up

(Newser) - Switzerland is on a mean cleaning bender: The fastidious folks at the Swiss Space Center are building a "janitor satellite" that will grab space junk orbiting the Earth and push it into the atmosphere to burn up, the AP reports. The first of these spacecraft, the $11 million "... More »

Failed Russia Spacecraft Crashes in Pacific

Would-be Mars probe showers southern Pacific

(Newser) - Russia's Defense Ministry says a failed probe designed to travel to a moon of Mars has crashed, showering debris over the southern Pacific, according to news reports. The ministry said the fragments fell today 775 miles west of Wellington Island. The Phobos Grunt was one of the heaviest and... More »

Russian Space Probe to Hit Earth in Hours

Failed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft will likely miss Russia, US

(Newser) - A failed Russian probe designed to travel to a moon of Mars but stuck in Earth's orbit will come crashing down within hours, the Russian space agency said today. Roscosmos said the unmanned Phobos-Grunt will crash between 11:41am and 4:05pm EST. It could crash anywhere along the... More »

Mysterious 'Space Ball' Falls From Sky

Namibians say it's made from 'an alloy known to man'

(Newser) - Namibian authorities are scratching their heads over a strange metal ball that fell out of the sky, they reveal. The ball, which weighs about 13 pounds and is 14 inches in diameter, was found lying about 60 feet away from the 12-foot-wide crater it left in the ground when it... More »

Satellite Slammed Into Southeast Asia

...but we don't know quite where

(Newser) - The latest satellite en route to Earth has made its landing—trouble is, no one knows quite where it ended up. An American astrophysicist says Germany's ROSAT seems to have dropped over Southeast Asia after entering Earth's atmosphere late Saturday night. Though two major Chinese cities were in... More »

German Satellite to Hit Earth This Week

ROSAT re-entering over the weekend

(Newser) - The Germans now have a better idea of when and where their defunct ROSAT satellite will plummet to Earth . The county's aerospace officials believe that the dead space telescope will make an uncontrolled re-entry sometime between Friday and Tuesday, most likely on Saturday or Sunday. Its landing is expected... More »

Another Falling Satellite on Its Way

1.6 tons of space junk could land somewhere on Earth

(Newser) - Brace yourself: Another satellite is falling, and this time the chances are one in 2,000 that it’ll hit someone. A German satellite known as ROSAT is due to plummet around the end of October, and while a lot of it will disintegrate before returning to Earth, experts say... More »

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