JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space junk collision. Artwork of space junk colliding with a satellite. The impacting debris here is a sliver of metal, and the collision has dislodged one of the satellite's solar panels. Space junk is the debris left in orbit by the hundreds of space missions which have taken place since the late 1950s. It mainly consists of old, dead payloads, burned out rocket bodies and operational debris such as optics covers and deployment equipment. It poses a serious threat to future missions due to the high risk of collisions. Even a small collision could severely damage space hardware, as here, and a collision on an inhabited space station could even prove fatal.
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