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

Nearly 30K objects larger than 10cm are currently in orbit
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2016 8:33 AM CST
Adopt a Piece of Space Junk, Get Its Tweets as It Flies By
This is a computer-generated image provided by the European Space Agency of catalogued objects in low-Earth orbit viewed over the Equator. Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites smashed into each other Tuesday Feb. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/ESA)

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 art project backed by London's Royal Astronomical Society called Adrift is allowing us lowly earthlings to adopt a little piece of space junk and let it tweet at us ominously every time it passes overhead, reports Motherboard. Choose from one of three tagged objects: the Vanguard I, the first solar-powered satellite launched by the US in 1958 and the oldest object still in orbit; the SuitSat, a Russian spacesuit full of trash that was ejected from the International Space Station in 2006; and a piece of Fengyun-1C, a Chinese weather satellite intentionally destroyed by China via a missile in 2007.

"Tackling the problem of space debris is one of humankind's greatest environmental challenges, but is also perhaps the one that is the least known," Hugh Lewis at the University of Southampton tells For starters, even a millimeter-sized speck of junk can inflict damage at high velocity. Get up to one centimeter and it could disable a satellite's critical flight system, the European Space Agency reported in May. And there are nearly 30,000 pieces larger than 10 centimeters, each of which could shatter a spacecraft. It's even possible that a chain of collisions could increase the amount of space debris in orbit exponentially, a potential called the Kessler Syndrome. So go ahead, adopt a little piece of the problem so that you can be reminded of it every time it passes by. (Here are five weird examples of space junk falling to Earth.)

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