Remember the prototype lunar rover that was believed to be scrapped but was recovered by a junkyard owner? It just failed to sell at auction, and could be yours if you have an amount of money more than $30000 burning a hole in your pocket.
On November 13, 2015, astronomers will get the chance to observe an object that will hit earth at 6:20 UTC, around 65 kilometres from the southern tip of Sri Lanka. This little guy is rare - even though there are many pieces of space junk in orbit around the earth, none of the artificial objects in distant orbit are known to have made the return trip to Earth. [more inside]
Japanese Pocari Sweat sports drink is striving to go where no ad has gone before: the moon. Lunar Dream is their campaign to get kids to submit their dreams to include in a "dream capsule," on SpaceX's Falcon 9, as part of the company's first moon landing in October 2015. [more inside]
Abandoned artificial satellites. Tanks jettisoned from shuttles. Refuse generated during space station construction. This junk, space debris, is traveling around the Earth at speeds approaching 8 km/s. This is a story of 2075, a time in which this space garbage has become a serious problem. This is Planetes, a near-future hard sci-fi story that focuses on a small group of debris collectors who are part of a larger company. Both the original manga and the anime adaptation set small personal stories and dramas in the realistic context of near-future space exploration, complete with radiation sickness, impacts of growing up on the moon, and of course, the dangers of space debris. The reality of the show is emphasized by a recent JAXA presentation was titled PLANETES could be a true story?: Instability of the current debris population in LEO, and the English DVDs include interviews with NASA staff who work on assessing orbital debris.
After nearly 5000 launches, we've put a lot of objects in space. Amongst them are around half a million pieces of debris, generated by explosions, breakups and collisions (previously). With speeds of up to 15 km/s, even tiny fragments can cause major damage and the creation of further debris. The Kessler Syndrome describes a situation where the cascade of collisions creates an exponential increase in the amount of debris, leading to a potentially impassable artificial belt in LEO lasting for generations. [more inside]
Dr Alice Gorman is on a mission (pdf) to preserve our heritage items in space. Plans to clean space junk orbiting Earth could result in the loss of irreplaceable historical artefacts, Gorman warns. Among the items that should recognised for their heritage value are the Vanguard One satellite, launched in 1958 and the oldest human object in space. Preserving items like these could provide evidence of a nation's presence in space or help reconstruct a history of space exploration.
Discovery-Alpha dodge astronaut's space junk. Do we as a people know how to pollute, or what? A 1999 study estimated there are some 4 million pounds of space junk in low-Earth orbit. I just watched a program on The Learning Channel that also showed how the Cosmonaunts on Mir would simply jettison their waste into space...traveling 18,000 MPH!!! And I thought flipping a cigarette butt out the car window was bad....