What aren’t you seeing when you stargaze at night? Nearly 170 million pieces of space debris currently orbiting the Earth, according to estimates from the European Space Agency.
Experts say it’s a growing amount of inactive hardware as well as fragments of spacecraft that have broken up, exploded, or otherwise become abandoned. NASA officials have said their shuttles regularly took hits from space debris, with more than 80 windows have having to be replaced over the years. Fortunately, Space Sweepers are doing a little spring cleaning in space.
The Singapore-based satellite company Astroscale recruited a special team in Japan to develop technology to destroy space debris. They plan to use magnets to catch and direct debris toward Earth where it will burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.
Some chunks are as big trucks, others are smaller than raisins. But even the tiniest piece of cosmic junk poses an enormous threat to satellites and spacecraft.
Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki says, "If we don't try to contribute to making the outer space cleaner, it could be a threat to our lives."
Now if only taking care of all the litter and landfills on earth was so “simple.”