What really happens to millions of pieces of space debris?


Today’s Video of the Day from the American Chemical Society explores the topic of space debris. How long does it take for space junk to break down, or – does it ever really break down?

There are several different types of debris in space, including natural meteoroids and orbital debris (anything sent to space by humans). 

The unusual environment of space means that debris does not break down the same way it would on Earth. Estimates suggest that there are more than 100 million pieces of space junk. While much of these pieces are quite small, the Space Surveillance Network is currently tracking nearly 40,000 objects that are larger than a softball. 

Regardless of its size, space debris is traveling at approximately 17,500 miles per hour, which makes potential collisions very dangerous. 

Video Credit: ACS

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Editor

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and Earth.com.

Popular Images
News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day