MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space junk. Computer artwork showing the Earth and scattered debris (white dots) in orbit around it. Some 22,000 man-made objects of different size and shape are in orbit around the Earth. Only a small fraction represent satellites which are presently in operation; the remainder could be categorised as used rocket bodies, dead payloads, operational debris (such as optics covers and payload attachment hardware) and the consequence of 30 years of payload, rocket and satellite fragmentation. This space junk is a hazard for future space missions due to the increasing probability of it impacting on newly launched satellites or spacecrafts.
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