Thousands of pieces of "space junk" orbit our planet.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of ESA.
On Earth, humans make trash. This trash can pollute our environment. Humans are doing the same thing in space. Right now there are millions of man-made objects floating in space called "space junk". Space junk includes things like satellites that don't work anymore or paint that has fallen off of the space shuttle.
Man-made junk orbits at a speed of 28,000 km/hr (17,500 miles/hour)! That's much faster then any human could drive! Even a grape-sized object could ruin a satellite if it hit at such a high speed!
Spacecraft, including the International Space Station (ISS), must be protected by shields that are not hurt when they get hit with space junk. Or the spacecraft must be able to move out of the way so it doesn't get hit by the space junk.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
Do you think Earth moves around the Sun in a circle? That is almost true, but not quite. The shape of Earth's orbit isn't quite a perfect circle. It is more like a "stretched out" circle or an...more
There is a large space station circling Earth right now. It is called the International Space Station (ISS for short). Astronauts live and work in the ISS. Sixteen countries, including the United States,...more
In February 2009 two satellites in Earth orbit crashed into each other. The satellites were smashed into thousands of little pieces. That was the first time ever for a major collision between two satellites...more
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is really neat! It was first launched in 1990, but scientists started building it in the 1970's! We have found all kinds of objects like stars, nebulae and galaxies. The...more
Apollo 11 was the first mission that landed a person on the moon. On July 16, 1969, the U. S. rocket Saturn 5 was launched carrying the lunar landing module Eagle. The Eagle was released and it reached...more
Apollo 12 was launched on Nov. 14, 1969 and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to its surface, while Richard Gordon remained in lunar orbit aboard the...more
Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more