How much stuff is in orbit around the Earth and is it dangerous?
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.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/how-much-stuff-orbit-around-earth-and-it-dangerous/

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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)
  • tym-orv
    11/05/2015 - 12:04 p.m.

    Why the United States Department of Defense only track the space junk made into the softball. Because the space junk is moving too fast, about 10 times the speed of a bullet. The Chinese fired little missiles into space to make into the space junk and the Australia work on the laser cannon to zap the space junk out of the obit.

  • stormieesoly-
    11/05/2015 - 12:21 p.m.

    A lot of people are wondering if space junk is bad or dangerous. NASA says that this is dangerous because if space junk touches each other it make a bigger piece of junk and it could fall into earths atmosphere.
    CTQ: Their are about 20,000 pieces of junk in outer space and the junk is moving 10 times more than a bullet and this makes it more dangerous because these objects burn up as it enters earths atmosphere. But in Australia they are working on a lazer to zap space junk out of orbit.

  • calebp-har
    11/05/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    The United States Department of Defense only tracks space junk larger than a softball because larger objects can take longer to burn in the Earth’s atmosphere. The smaller objects take less time and have less mass than the larger objects.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    11/05/2015 - 01:16 p.m.

    The United States might not detect the things smaller than a softball. the junk is taking up a lot of our atmosphere and is really unhealthy for our planet. Hopefully, we can get rid of some.

  • kalvinholy-
    11/05/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    how does all the space junk even get up there. this is really very interesting

  • raganroly-
    11/05/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    I think that it's a good thing that Australia are working on a space laser to zap all of the killer space junk out of orbit so that it will be safer.

  • treycoly-
    11/05/2015 - 01:21 p.m.

    There are about half a million pieces of space junk in Earth's orbit, 20,00 of the pieces are bigger than a softball. Junk in orbit are moving at about 10x faster than the speed of a bullet, and it would hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite. Australia is trying to build and modify different weapons of different sorts that shoot lasers at that junk to knock them out of orbit

    CTQ: They might only because they don't have advanced enough materials that can track something that small from that far away.

  • allanajoly-
    11/05/2015 - 01:21 p.m.

    there is a lot of space junk and 3000 pieces are from the Chinese because they blew up one of our weather satalettes

  • lucasloly-
    11/05/2015 - 01:22 p.m.

    There are about half 500,000 pieces of space junk, and 20,000 that are bigger than a softball, which is moving 10x the speed of a bullet, and will hit you with the power of 25 sticks of dynamite. The Chinese showed of a missile in 2007 and blew up an old weather satellite adding 3,000 more space junk. When space junk bumps into other space junk it doesn't fall into the atmosphere and burn up it becomes millions of little missiles instead of two small ones. The Australians are trying to build a laser to zap the space junk.

    CTQ: They might not be able to do it because they might not have enough advanced materials or hit an object the size of a softball.

  • allanajoly-
    11/05/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    CTQ=
    Because it is so small maybe you can't see it or maybe because it is smaller it will travel a lot faster

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