EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the location of satellites and space junk around Earth. There are more than 1000 operational satellites in orbit around Earth, and several times than number that are no longer operational. There are also many leftover parts from launches, such as spent rocket stages. Disintegration and collisions have broken up larger pieces into millions of small pieces of debris smaller than a centimetre in size. Proliferation of space junk may pose a threat to future missions, and equipment intended for popular orbits requires shielding from impact damage.
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