Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
 
« Previous | Index | Next »
 

Commentary: The short answer

Space agencies really do have to attempt to track the junk that's now floating around in orbit. There's a lot of it, from big chunks like spent rocket stages and dead satellites to tiny fragments like paint flakes. The biggest objects are tracked by radar, but NASA says that "[t]he greatest challenge is medium size particles (objects with a diameter between 1 cm to 10 cm), because they are not easily tracked and are large enough to cause catastrophic damage to spacecraft and satellites." Here's the article I've quoted from, which includes an alarming picture of damage to a space-shuttle window.

All the members of my household have a tendency towards preoccupation, and everyday objects like keys and wallets are generally put away "on autopilot" when we get home. Inevitably, if something interrupts that pretty-much unconscious process, articles end up somewhere other than their usual location and we have a terrible time finding them again afterwards.

What is the short answer? The website at theshortanswer.com makes it crystal clear.

« Previous | Index | Next »