Space crash called 'catastrophic,' lots of debris

Feb 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: Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

British asteroid mapper sent into orbit

Jul 10, 2014

UK technology that can create thermal maps of asteroids, giving us vital information about how their trajectories might change, is about to undergo trials in space.

Astronomers find seven dwarf galaxies with new telescope

Jul 10, 2014

Meet the seven new dwarf galaxies. Yale University astronomers, using a new type of telescope made by stitching together telephoto lenses, recently discovered seven celestial surprises while probing a nearby ...

Harpooning space debris

Jun 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —Faced with the challenge of capturing tumbling satellites to clear key orbits, ESA is considering turning to an ancient terrestrial technology: the harpoon.

Recommended for you

Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

5 hours ago

Look up at the night sky this week and you'll find Mars and Saturn together in the west. Mars stands out with its reddish colouring and you might just be able to detect a faint yellow tinge to Saturn. ...

Electric sparks may alter evolution of lunar soil

8 hours ago

The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by University of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly ...

User comments : 4

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.