Archive for the ‘Aerospace’ Category

A Chilling Exploration of Space Debris

Photo by Michael Najjar. All rights reserved.

Photo by Michael Najjar. All rights reserved.

I spent every day in October watching horror movies, but the fact of the matter is: Gravity is by far the scariest movie I saw this year. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. Watching Sandra Bullock struggle to survive against the inky blackness of space… it gives me chills just thinking about it. Of course much was made about the scientific inaccuracies of the movie, but one major plot factor that didn’t seem to be debated at all was the ever-threatening presence of fast-traveling space junk (re: “orbital debris”) that could appear on the horizon at any point and impale you/crush you/send you floating untethered into the unknown.

It seems this latest sci-fi thriller has re-kindled an interest in the terrors of space trash, as Scientific American released a comprehensive report earlier this fall on “The Growing Threat of Space Junk”, featuring interactive elements and lots of scary info. For example, one of the tabs offers “Six Reasons to Worry About Space Junk,” which include the possibilities of damage to the International Space System, high speed collisions that could result in exponential growth of space junk, and of course the chance that some debris could hit the earth. You can also look at break down of space debris by size, and also check out who is responsible for cluttering up the solar system (spoiler: Russia).

Meanwhile, Treehugger points to a German photographer named Michael Najjar (self appointed “first artist in space”, as he has apparently purchased tickets for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight next year) has created two digital photographs that serve as a sort of map of space debris. Space Debris I and Space Debris II were created using archived data at the Institute of Aerospace Systems, representing individual objects in orbit with tiny grey spheroids arranged in a 3D mapping against a black background, and the effect is mesmerizingly pretty.

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