Monday, April 29, 2013
Watch Out for Space Junk!
Junk, you see it littering the highways. There's also junk in space, LOTS of it. Scientists estimate that 20,000 man-made objects are orbiting the Earth, much of the junk in low-Earth orbit. Debris includes rocket boosters, old communication and weather satellites and even tools dropped by astronauts while outside the International Space Station. And, scientists say there are more than 500,000-tens of millions of itsy bitsy pieces of junk! And, it's not just floating along in space. Scientists say space debris travels at speeds of about 17,5000 miles per hour.All this space junk zipping around in space could be a safety issue to space missions! Scientists are meeting in May to discuss the topic and what can be done about it. Scientists in Great Britain are developing a giant harpoon which could grab some of the space junk and pull it down toward Earth where it can burn up. Other scientists are suggesting a net which could catch space junk or a gigantic robotic arm that could grab the space junk and pull it back to Earth. Still another idea is using a ground laser that could take aim and knock space junk off of a path with space crafts and satellites.
1. Ask students to come up with ideas that might be used to clean up space junk. Draw a picture of their idea and write a paragraph explaining how it would work.
2. Pretend you are a wrench, chip of paint or other space debris. What do you see in space? Tell about a day in your life as you zip through space.
More Information on Space Junk:
Photograph from Space.com