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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Alamanc

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about.. space trash.


CURWOOD: Two years ago on July 24, satellite monitors spotted a chunk of an old rocket colliding with a French military satellite, severely damaging it. This was the first time such a collision was observed, but space trash has been dinging, denting, and disabling space equipment for years. Over 10,000 humanmade objects have been tracked in orbit, and 95% is junk. And when you count bits smaller than 4 inches, which can't be detected by radar, there are probably tens of millions of pieces of debris. But even those tiny fragments pack quite a punch. Because they can travel up to 30,000 miles an hour, they can hit with the force ofspeeding bullets. In fact, space shuttle cockpit windows have had to be replaced after being pitted and fractured by zooming paint flecks. In addition to all the junk in orbit, there's a fair amount of litter on the moon and on Mars and other planets. Among the objects that have been left behind are old rovers, antennas, cameras, and golf balls. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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