This video is supported by Squarespace Peter and Myra Welton were a retired couple living in Hall England in 2009 just enjoying a nice weekend afternoon with their grandkids when suddenly a loud bang shook the house Peter went up into the Attic to see what happened and he found that something had smashed a hole in their ceiling and right.
Below that was a smouldering hunk of metal.
It was so hot they had to carry it downstairs with oven mitts they shared this with the police who had no.
Idea what it was the police shared it with the British military who were just as confused this weird hunk of metal finally made its way to.
Yeah it was a piece of space debris from a satellite that burned up in the atmosphere and it just happened to land on their home unlucky for them obviously but luckily nobody was hurt and.
They got a good story out of it and they got to keep it the Wilton story is not altogether unique though between 200 and 400 pieces of space.
Debris fall through our atmosphere every year now of course most of it burns up in the atmosphere and most of the world is uninhabited so the chance of getting hit by one is very very slim ironically though the fact that all that stuff is falling down from space is actually a good thing that’s exactly what you wanted.
To do the real problem is that so much of the stuff we’ve put up there has never come down a problem that might not just keep us from progressing as a species but if we don’t do something about it soon could set us back.
Last week marked the 61st anniversary of the launch of Sputnik the first satellite in space now Sputnik didn’t do much more than just beep but the hundreds of satellites that followed eight have completely changed our way of life.
From instant cell phone communication to Internet service to broadcast TV GPS the list goes on and on but along with these wonderful transformative satellites we’ve also put a lot of other stuff up there empty rocket stages various equipment nuts and bolts literally nuts and bolts nuts and bolts flying around at 17,000 miles an hour over 10 times faster than a speeding bullet just a quick primer to enter orbit around the Earth you actually have to.
Travel perpendicularly to the direction of gravity by 17,000 miles an hour in order to enter a state of basically perpetual falling that’s.
Why astronauts are weightless in outer space is not because gravity isn’t working on them anymore it’s because they’re basically constantly falling and never hitting the ground you know we see these videos of spaceships docking in orbit it looks like they’re just slowly floating towards each other until they lock into a lover’s embrace about the clouds like a slow-motion ballet which was perfectly depicted.
By Stanley Kubrick in 2001 sets of Blue Danube when in actuality Slayer would have been a better choice of music because in order to dock with something in space.
First of all you have to get into space which is in the treatment all its own but then you have to travel up to 22 times the speed of sound to get caught up to the same.
Speed as that thing that you’re docking with before you can start doing the whole dance not to mention timing your launch and trajectory just right to reach the right orbit.
And the right destination there’s a reason why they call this rocket science so the problem isn’t just that there’s a lot of stuff floating around in space the problem is the speed at which.
That stuff is traveling because the kinetic energy of an object is the square of its velocity so if an object is traveling 10 times that of a.
Speeding bullet it actually has 20 times the kinetic energy of a speeding bullet and just.
In case you need a reminder.
Getting hit by one speeding bullet is bad I’m taking a minute to talk about this because these are speeds and energies that we can’t even fathom we literally can’t experience that.
Here on the ground we literally can’t anything traveling at that speed at sea level would instantly vaporize right now these objects are buzzing around the satellites that make our way of life possible how many you may be asking you might want to sit down for this.
Right now there are more than 750,000 pieces of debris floating around out there that are currently being tracked by various agencies around the world including the Air Force vast majority of.
These objects are between 1 and 10 centimeters in size with 16,000 pieces larger than 10 centimeters many of these are spent rocket stages and dead satellites in fact only one in 10 satellites in space are currently functional satellites.
But just in case you haven’t fully evacuated your bowels yet let’s talk about the pieces of debris that are smaller than 1 centimeter also known as micro debris remember.
The episode that I did on plastics where I was talking about how big garbage patches in the ocean get broken down into micro plastics that find.
Their way into our food stream and how that’s the real problem well this is like that except those micro plastics are traveling fast enough to tear you in half and there is an estimated 150 million pieces of micro debris floating around in space too small to be tracked but carrying enough energy to.
Do this this happened on the space shuttle mission STS 7 in 1983 and.
Of paint smaller than 1 millimeter flecks of paint er especially rampant into space because these satellites and spent stages go out there and they’ve got paint on them and the Sun bombards this paint for.
And ruins every Wednesday right now there’s a similar crack on the couple of window of the International Space Station and images of.
Hubble solar panels show dozens of pock marks caused by micro debris right now space is basically a cosmic shooting gallery already this.
Problem has been a headache for.
Space Agency’s at least once a month the ISS has performed maneuvers to avoid a piece of space junk and every.
Launch does it take space debris into account when making their flight plan is that there’s not enough factors to consider already but these are just headaches the real problem was illustrated by former NASA scientist Donald Kessler in 1978 he proposed a situation where we get so much space debris up there that inevitably.