Chicken Little, at least in the most recent film adaptation, is the story of an adolescent who is chided for proclaiming, “The sky is falling!” The townsfolk, who had at first panicked, eventually conclude that the paranoid bird was walloped by a falling acorn. Little is vindicated in the end – as will you be in February if you spot a falling object barreling toward earth and opt to scream about it. NASA recently confirmed that a broken satellite may be en route. And more, no doubt, will follow.
The chances of this busted satellite hitting your house or head is slim, with Earth’s vast expanses of ocean and desert, the debris will likely crash and few people will notice. But with the night sky now brimming with debris and satellites for the world’s militaries, phone companies and navigational-system providers, there’s a chance that something will hit someone at some point.
Space junk has increased substantially in the last two years. The Chinese, Russians and U.S. are responsible for most of the 12,000 objects orbiting the earth. That’s about 11,000 more than just 50 years ago.
Here’s a few fun facts from space.com:
The oldest debris still in orbit is the second U.S. satellite, the Vanguard I, launched in 1958, March, the 17th, which worked only for 6 years.
In 1965, during the first American space walk, the Gemini 4 astronaut Edward White, lost a glove. For a month, the glove stayed in orbit with a speed of 28,000 km / h, becoming the most dangerous garment in history.
More than 200 objects, most of them rubbish bags, were released by the Mir space station during its first 10 years of operation.
Larger objects have also smashed into our planet, including this rather large Stainless Steel Cylindrical Propellant that landed in Georgetown, Tex.
As the BBC reports, the U.S. normally controls the re-entry of its satellites into the Pacific Ocean. But as more malfunction, and as other space litter rains down, you should listen to the Littles. When someone says the “sky is falling,” I’d recommend taking cover.
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