The ESA Wants To Clean Up Space Trash Using These Fishing Nets

How will we clean up the giant (and steadily increasing) trash vortex that swirls around our little blue planet? Perhaps by harpooning it with these space fishing nets. » 3/24/15 9:20am 3/24/15 9:20am

The Earth Is Surrounded By A Great Swirling Vortex Of Trash

Just what are all those tiny, swirling dots swooping gracefully around the Earth? Are those pinprick points the ghosts of far away stars? Perhaps they are the gaseous remains of some far away nebula? Or, maybe, it's just a giant orbital swarm of trash. » 10/31/14 8:40am 10/31/14 8:40am

The Space Station Has The Most Beautiful Garbage Day

While terrestrial humans tolerate stinky, sticky garbage trucks, our astronaut brethren opt for something much more beautiful for their disposal runs. This streak of fire across the night sky is the burning of the Cygnus spacecraft, dirty laundry, and other junk. On the flip side, garbage day is a lot less frequent. » 8/18/14 4:47pm 8/18/14 4:47pm

Where Do Satellites Go To Die?

Although the International Space Station has a pair of self-repairing robots, most artificial objects in orbit aren't nearly as lucky. Sooner or later, satellites reach the end of their useful life. When this happens, they either drop down and burn up during re-entry, or are sent to the satellite graveyard. » 6/30/14 3:21pm 6/30/14 3:21pm

Here's What Our Space Junk Looks Like After It's Crashed Back To Earth

What goes up toward space can come crashing down again—in the plains of Texas and the deserts of Saudi Arabia, through barn roofs and into the Amazon. Check out these photographs of battered and decaying pieces of rocketry that are now merely space junk. » 6/26/14 3:45pm 6/26/14 3:45pm

How Did This Big Ball Of Space Junk Wind Up In Uruguay?

The Payload Assist Motor of the Delta rocket upper stage (PAM-D) is almost freaky in its durability. In 2011, another chunk of would-be space junk survived re-entry, crashing as a recognizable sphere instead of burning up in the atmosphere. » 5/24/14 5:49pm 5/24/14 5:49pm

Found: Rocket Pressurization System, Slightly Used

The Sherif's Office in Moffat County, Colorado was in for a shock on March 22, 2011 when their Lost and Found office acquired a mysterious new find. It was a metal sphere, 30 inches in diameter, with Cyrillic markings. » 5/17/14 1:29pm 5/17/14 1:29pm

Space Junk on an Australian Cattle Station

Not all junk stays in orbit, and not all things that land are found. A Delta 2 rocket launched in 1990, re-entering the atmosphere within months. Yet it took 18 years to discover the rocket casing on a cattle station in the Australian outback. » 5/10/14 12:09pm 5/10/14 12:09pm

A History of Garbage in Space

Space isn't empty, and near-Earth orbit is downright crowded. Every month, some junk burns up during re-entry as ever more is introduced into orbit. Poking around NASA's Orbital Debris Quarterly archives reveals the story of space junk from deliberate to accidental, and all of it hazardous. » 5/08/14 11:21am 5/08/14 11:21am

Surprisingly Pretty Space Junk

The space near Earth is crowded with all sorts of junk, everything from collision debris to spent rocket stages, dead spacecraft to paint flecks from chipped logos. While hazardous to spacecraft, the space junk is certainly pretty against an ocean backdrop with lots of sun-glint. » 5/06/14 8:48pm 5/06/14 8:48pm

Europe's New Satellite Narrowly Avoided A Collision with Space Junk

Just 34 hours after the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1A spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket, it nearly smashed into a dead NASA satellite. » 4/10/14 11:40am 4/10/14 11:40am

Japan's space agency, JAXA, is testing a giant, magnetic space net as a way to clean up space junk. Over at The New Scientist, they take a closer look at just what we can expect from the 700-meter long aluminum and steel net, set to launch next month. » 1/22/14 7:00pm 1/22/14 7:00pm

A Startling Image That Shows Why Space Junk is a Nightmare

If you saw the movie Gravity, then you know that space debris can be deadly. Some scientists warn that the crud in Earth's orbit may have reached a dangerous "tipping point." But to prove the point, here's an image from artist Michael Najjar that shows every single piece of real-life junk in our orbit. » 12/31/13 12:30pm 12/31/13 12:30pm

How to Clean Up Deadly Space Junk Before Disaster Strikes

Hit film Gravity offers a hyper-realistic portrait of life in space, including the possibility that an avalanche of space debris could be fatal. This is a real threat, so we'd better be ready. Here are ideas that scientists, engineers and other experts have proposed to reduce the space junk threat, and clean up our… » 10/10/13 11:21am 10/10/13 11:21am

Are satellite orbits being compromised by global warming?

As bizarre as this might sound, a new study published in Nature Geoscience is suggesting that global warming is having an impact on objects orbiting around the Earth. According to environmental physicist Stefan Noël, rising carbon dioxide levels are reducing the pull of the Earth's atmosphere on objects like… » 11/12/12 4:16pm 11/12/12 4:16pm

50-kilogram metal sphere falls from the sky over Brazilian town

An unlucky cashew tree was blasted in half last week when a 50-kilogram metal ball dropped from the sky over the Brazilian village of Riacho dos Poços. The ball left a crater one-meter deep after landing near Valdir José Mendes' house. » 2/27/12 9:55am 2/27/12 9:55am

Earth's orbit is swarming with debris — meet the satellite designed to…

At any given time, NASA is keeping track of about 16,000 pieces of space junk in Earth's orbit — and those are just the big chunks. This debris poses a serious safety hazard, primarily to operational satellites in the planet's orbit, but also to astronauts like those on board the ISS. In fact, according to some NASA… » 2/17/12 1:50pm 2/17/12 1:50pm

Metal balls falling from space are "common in the Southern Hemisphere,"…

CNN is reporting on a strange metal object that fell from the sky into a relatively deserted area in the Republic of Namibia last month: » 12/23/11 3:32pm 12/23/11 3:32pm