How much stuff is in orbit around the Earth and is it dangerous? (Thinkstock)
How much stuff is in orbit around the Earth and is it dangerous?
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You asked us a question. "How much stuff is in orbit around the Earth. And is it dangerous?"
 
NASA tracks some half a million pieces of space junk. They track everything. They track bits of out-of-date satellites. They even track the rare lost glove or spatula. 
 
The United States Department of Defense tracks everything larger than a softball. There are about 20,000 objects. 
 
Why? Because a piece of space junk that size is moving fast. It is moving at about 10 times the speed of a bullet. It will hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite.
 
It is worse when space junk runs into other space junk. It does not just fall into earth's atmosphere and burn up. 
 
It becomes millions of little missiles. They race around the earth. That is instead of two big ones.
 
Thank goodness we can always count on a little help from our friends. 
 
One example is the Chinese. In 2007, they decided to show off their fancy new anti-satellite missile system. They blew up an old weather satellite. It added another 3,000 pieces of killer junk to the problem. 
 
There is an upside. Our mates in Australia are working on a laser. It will zap space junk out of orbit.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might the United States Department of Defense only track space junk larger than a softball?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • adamsa-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:45 a.m.

    I think they think it is not important for the small ones because they are not as noticeable. The bigger ones are better because you can see it better

    • mattsimonsen-bak
      12/15/2015 - 03:45 p.m.

      all ones can kill you.

  • banksb-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:46 a.m.

    This article is about how they find all kinds of things on earth! about 20,000 things come at you faster than a bullet.
    also the space tracking junk find a lot of this that should not be in the earth, but its their.!

  • clarkr-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:47 a.m.

    They only track the things larger than a softball because if there smaller than a softball, when they are hit they blow up into lots of little pieces of junk which makes it even more junk and harder to get rid of.

  • barnettr-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:48 a.m.

    because space junk that big going that fast can do a lot of harm to us. It goes very fast. when space junk hits each other it does not just burn up.

  • cabrerag-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:49 a.m.

    They(Department of Defense) only track space junk lager than a softball because one piece of space junk moves as fast as 10 times the speed of a bullet. It would aslo hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite

  • caldwellk-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:50 a.m.

    This article is about how trash and other objects are found around the earth. People in Australia are working on a laser that will get rid of all of the trash. I think it is a good idea to get rid of the trash because it's dangerous.

  • bankst-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:50 a.m.

    They have a fast speed of 10 times faster than a speeding bullet.Less alone a girl or man pitching there hardest and fastest to a catcher.So we should be more worried about the space junk in space.Also it will hit you with 25 sticks of dynamite.

  • balesk-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:51 a.m.

    because the pieces of space junk that is bigger than a soft ball travel at the speed of a bullet and hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite. but its worse when space junk crashes with other space junk because it turns into tiny little missiles... It also damages the atmosphere..

  • avilaarevaloj-rob
    11/05/2015 - 09:52 a.m.

    The united states department of defense only tracks space junk lager than a softball. It is dangerous it is moving so fast it is like a bullet being shot and it will shoot out ten times faster than a bullet being shot normally and it will hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite.

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