Space crash called 'catastrophic,' lots of debris

February 13, 2009
This image provided by the European Space Agency shows and artist impression of catalogued objects in low-Earth orbit viewed over the Equator. Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites _ one American, the other Russian _ smashed into each other hundreds of miles above Siberia Tuesday Feb. 10, 2009. The collision was the first high-speed impact between two intact spacecraft, NASA officials said. The debris field shown in this image is an artist's impression based on actual data but not shown in their actual size or density. (AP Photo/ESA)

(AP) -- The crash of two satellites has generated an estimated tens of thousands of pieces of space junk that could circle Earth and threaten other satellites for the next 10,000 years, space experts said Friday.



Content from The Associated Press expires 15 days after original publication date. For more information about The Associated Press, please visit www.ap.org .

Explore further: Eris' moon Dysnomia

Related Stories

Eris' moon Dysnomia

July 29, 2015

Ask a person what Dysnomia refers to, and they might venture that it's a medical condition. In truth, they would be correct. But in addition to being a condition that affects the memory (where people have a hard time remembering ...

Astrophysicist discusses Pluto flyby findings

July 15, 2015

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reached its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday, swooping to within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet out beyond Neptune, snapping pictures and gathering data.

Radar guards against space debris

July 1, 2015

Space debris poses a growing threat to satellites and other spacecraft, which could be damaged in the event of a collision. A new German space surveillance system, schedu- led to go into operation in 2018, will help to prevent ...

Recommended for you

Galaxies show appetite for growth

August 4, 2015

The extent to which galaxies consume one another has been revealed in research. Findings from the study help to explain how galaxies such as the Milky Way were formed.

Will SETI's unprecedented new program finally find E.T.?

August 4, 2015

Stephen Hawking, Frank Drake and dozens of journalists gathered at the Royal Society in London last week to hear astronomers announce a ground-breaking new project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life called "Breakthrough ...

Tracking a mysterious group of asteroid outcasts

August 4, 2015

High above the plane of our solar system, near the asteroid-rich abyss between Mars and Jupiter, scientists have found a unique family of space rocks. These interplanetary oddballs are the Euphrosyne (pronounced you-FROH-seh-nee) ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinf
3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2009
That "artist impression" is extremely misleading. Most if the debris depicted appears to be the size of Rhode Island with many long narrow pieces of debris the length of Texas. The reality is nothing like that. The majority of the debris being tracked are the size of a softball. If you broker apart just one of the artist's white spots representing debris into several thousand pieces smaller than the pixels on a computer can resolve, then maybe it would be a bit closer to reality. Yes, there is a lot of debris. But there is a lot of space as well.
magpies
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2009
I think the artist did a great job because the point was to make it look like its going to turn into a huge cloud of destruction up there. And thats what the picture does. And also that is probably what will happen now. The best thing that could come out of this is possibly an end to the space programs that waste tons of resorces. I mean really we proved we can go into outer space now lets prove we can live on the earth...
barakn
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2009
Yeah, I agree with kevinf. I think the artist should have created an image the size of the Earth so all the objects could be shown to scale. But then we'd need an Earth-size computer screen. Maybe we should just launch the entire population of the planet into orbit so they can see for themselves.
Velanarris
not rated yet Feb 15, 2009
Well although the artists depiction is certainly not to scale or incredibly accurate, the presented, but ill-diagramed, danger is there. Most of the space junk is under 2 inches in size along any dimension, so it's smaller than we can effectively track, but, it's traveling at incredible speeds. Effectively there's an Aegis anti-missle array around the planet, and it's already been responsible for a lot of satellite outages and some serious destruction of scientific resources.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.