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, "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 from bits of useless satellites to the random lost glove. Or even a 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 at about 10 times the speed of a bullet. It will hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite.
 
Worse, when space junk runs into other space junk, it doesn't just fall into earth's atmosphere and burn up. 
 
It becomes millions of little missiles racing around the earth. That's instead of two big ones.
 
Thank goodness we can always count on a little help from our friends. 
 
Take the Chinese, for example. In 2007, they decided to show off their fancy new anti-satellite missile system. And they blew up an old weather satellite. It added another 3,000 pieces of killer junk to the problem. 
 
On the upside, our mates in Australia are working on a laser to 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 (238)
  • stephenn-coo
    11/05/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    They would probably so that, because objects smaller than that are basically nothing.

  • jacobr1-moo
    11/05/2015 - 10:24 a.m.

    I think it is cool how a bullet cant go as fast as objects around the Earth.

  • miral-6-bar
    11/05/2015 - 11:06 a.m.

    The U. S. department of defense only tracks objects larger than a softball because, the smaller objects are traveling so fast that they are too difficult to record. the article states," Why? Because a piece of space junk that size is moving at about 10 times the speed of a bullet. It will hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite.".

    I found this article very interesting. I have always been so interested (and quite terrified) by what is happening in the sky and what objects are floating around.

  • jacobf-buh
    11/05/2015 - 11:07 a.m.

    You asked us, "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 from bits of useless satellites to the random lost glove. Or even a spatula.

    i think this is bad but this will help

    our mates in Australia are working on a laser to zap space junk out of orbit.

  • trvorwoly-
    11/05/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    This article is about all the stuff up in space that is very dangerous. Why is this important? It can come down from orbit and kill people.
    CTQ: It might only track big stuff because there are thousands of little pieces that aren't worth counting.

  • abbigaleboly-
    11/05/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    This is really interesting cause I never thought about having things floating in space cause of us. Now I want to know why and how we can prevent this from happening.

    CTQ: They do that because anything bigger then a softball could probably do a lot of damage compared to things that are smaller than a softball.

  • isiahholy-
    11/05/2015 - 11:58 a.m.

    there is like alot of cool space stuff and about people in chiania who poulted 3,000 things from blowing up a satlite.

  • lanesoly-
    11/05/2015 - 11:58 a.m.

    In this article NASA is able to track the flight objects bigger that a softball in space that is orbiting the earth. Australia is now making a laser that we can shoot the junk with an hopefully destroy the junk so it doesn't fly into the earth.

  • lanesoly-
    11/05/2015 - 12:00 p.m.

    I think united states track junk bigger than a softball because that is the dangerous junk.

  • tjmoly-
    11/05/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    NASA tracks about 20,000 pieces of space junk, they are doing this because it could damage are earth because if it hits it will be coming down very fast and could hit people or places
    CTQ
    They only track junk larger than a softball because its worthless to spend that much time worrying about a small object

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