I know there is a lot of garbage on earth, that’s no surprise, but I never thought about it being in space before. And yes, most of the trash in space is caused by humans. Space debris is commonly defined as nonfunctional, human-made materials in orbit caused by everything from spent booster stages to satellite collisions and explosions.
I guess it’s not enough to harm the earth; we have to clutter space with a trail of our messiness also. It’s sad. A few times each day a satellite orbiting earth barely misses a cloud of this garbage, which is very dangerous. Of course, as this continues, it will become an even bigger issue for us since space travel is supposedly in our future.
Last week NASA and Cornell University laid out a plan to use what could be described as a laser-broom to sweep up the mess. In a nutshell, the plan would be to slow the debris down, have it reenter the earth’s atmosphere and then let it burn up. Since it would only cost about six million dollars to create such a laser, which in NASA terms is insanely inexpensive, this is real viable option. So I say… giddee up NASA, get to zapping that stuff away and cleaning up space while we work on cleaning up the earth.
If you would like to read all the geeky details about this laser, I have linked several articles below for you to check out. In the meantime, this is a great infographic created by GOOD and Column Five Media which illustrates some interesting information about the waste in space.