Short answer: Bad news for space travel. And this isn't just idle speculation for boozy astrophysicist parties. Space junk—spent rockets, lost astro-screwdrivers, satellite parts—could form rings around our planet as surely as water, ice and dust encircle Saturn. Scientists have been especially concerned about satellite collisions, where debris from one wreck could trigger a futuristic 12-car pileup.
On 10 February 2009 it started to happen. In the first collision between two intact satellites, the defunct Russian craft Kosmos-2251 struck communications satellite Iridium 33 at a speed of 42,100 kilometres per hour. The impact shattered one of Iridium 33's solar panels and sent the satellite into a helpless tumble. Kosmos-2251 was utterly destroyed. The two orbits are now home to clouds of debris that, according to the US military's Space Surveillance Network (SSN), contain more than 2000 fragments larger than 10 centimetres. The collision may also have produced hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments, which cannot currently be tracked from Earth.
Such debris is a serious worry. With satellites travelling at tens of thousands of kilometres per hour, any encounter with debris could be lethal. "Being hit by a 1-centimetre object at orbital velocity is the equivalent of exploding a hand grenade next to a satellite," says Heiner Klinkrad, head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany.
New Scientist: Space Junk—Hunting Zombies in Outer Space
Image: Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
A trio of scholars who study the psychology and philosophy of science have written a fantastic paper for Springer’s Sythese looking at the way that climate change conspiracy theorists construct their view of the world, and how these conspiracy theories contain self-contradictory theses (like the idea that climate change can’t be predicted and the idea […]
Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as “terrorists” and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers.
Blue writes, “Peter Watts has be stricken with debilitating pain, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts’ doctors remain baffled despite a battery of tests, and Watts has reached out to his fans to ask for their theories and ideas as to what might be causing his illness.”
CloudPress is a responsive WordPress theme builder that allows you to create a whole site in less than 30 minutes. CloudPress comes with tools like pre-built headers, content blocks, and footers—all you have to do is pick what you like, and drag and drop. With your subscription, you get access to 13 professionally designed WordPress themes, over 80 […]
If you own a dog, you’ve most likely heard of BarkBox – the monthly subscription box for dogs. What started as a simple idea to try out the subscription model on pet owners has since developed a cult following of dog lovers. If you haven’t given it a try yet, this one month free deal is the […]
With the iPhone headphone jack having gone by the wayside, we’re excited about the addition of the FRANKLIN Bluetooth Headphones in our store. These headphones are foldable so they’re easy to carry around, but most importantly, they pack impressive sound. Our biggest struggle with Bluetooth headphones is the worry of them dying at the worst moment. This pair lasts an impressive 8-10 […]