CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space debris. Artwork of space debris returning to Earth after being discarded during an Apollo mission. This is a rocket stage, a fuel-containing section of a spacecraft that is discarded when the fuel is used up. Some of the stages from the early Apollo missions have attained orbits around the Sun. These orbits will cross Earth's orbit, and one day their paths may pass close by each other, as seen here. Such space debris is a hazard to spacecraft and satellites, though the probability of an impact is very small, and Earth-orbiting debris is more of a problem. The Apollo rockets were used in the American missions to the Moon (lower left) in the 1960s and 1970s.
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