A recent report from the US National Research Council has highlighted an ever increasing problem – space debris. Ever since humans started sending things up into orbit there has been a problem with space junk, because not everything that goes up there comes back down. While larger objects will fall out of orbit and either return to Earth or burn up in the atmosphere, smaller fragments remain in orbit. While small, these fragments could do a significant amount of damage to satellites (or worse spacecraft) and there are also old satellites and spent booster rockets that remain in orbit which could cause even more damage. Some computer models are suggesting that the level of debris has reached a tipping point where there is so much debris that it will be constantly colliding – creating yet more debris. So what is the solution? Several ideas have been proposed including a giant magnet and an umbrella shaped device to sweep up debris. Whichever solution is decided upon, something needs to be done for the sake of those onboard the International Space Station, who increasingly have to dodge the space junk that shares their orbit.Discuss
Space is Rubbish!
Space is Rubbish! by Felicity Carlysle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
When chemicals spill out into the world around us, we need to know what consequences they will have. In general, an opinion of “what doesn’t harm is fine” holds – both for ecotoxicological tests, used to determine the adverse effects of contaminants, and in the community overall. Indeed, it is quite intuitive. But what if … More
Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1st 1920, the ninth child in a poor black family of tobacco farmers in Virginia, USA. At the age of 30, Henrietta developed extremely aggressive cervical cancer. During her treatment she unknowingly donated her cancer cells, which are still growing to this day in laboratories worldwide. Henrietta never knew, … More
Magpies like to steal shiny, metallic objects to make their nests, right? That’s how the age-old story goes. Rossini even penned an opera on the subject. The birds, part of the crow family, are often celebrated for their intelligence. Magpies are capable of storing food over winter and remembering its location, even remembering which other … More
Here’s a simple idea: You have three pigeons and only two pigeonholes. If you put the pigeons in the pigeonholes you’ll end up with at least one hole that contains two pigeons. Right? Now let’s consider quantum particles. What if you have three quantum particles and two boxes and you try the same thing? Well, … More