Space junk has reached a tipping point, scientists warn

Danger of fatal space accident on the rise

Scientists in the U.S. are concerned that the amount of “space junk” orbiting the Earth has reached a tipping point. In a report by the National Research Council, scientists warned NASA that the cloud of debris orbiting the planet could cause fatal damage to spaceships and destroy vital satellites. In a statement Thursday, researchers said the amount of space junk, such as old satellites, boosters and tiny fragments from space missions, “has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures.” Currently, there are 22,000 pieces of space junk that are large enough to track from Earth, but it is believed that there are thousands more that are as small as 1cm. In order to solve this problem, a Pentagon report dubbed “Catcher’s Mitt,” suggested using a range of technologies, including massive nets and harpoons.

BBC News



Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.