Space pollution: Here's every known piece of space debris orbiting Earth

Space Debris orbiting Earth
© Michael Najja/IAS

In space, no one can hear you litter

The image above was created by German photographer Michael Najjar, a "certified civilian astronauts" who has a ticket to go to space on board Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo in 2014. He titled the piece "Space Debris I", and created it with the help of the Institute of Aerospace Systems at the Braunschweig University of Technology, the world leading institute for space debris tracking. “Based on a data archive, each spherule in the picture represents a real existing object orbiting in space," Najjar says. As you can see, space isn't so empty, at least not in Earth's orbit.

All this debris isn't just a problem because it can make environmentalists cry, though....

PSA/Promo image

It could also lead to the kinds of problems depicted in the film Gravity (which I saw and loved, by the way). The film is fiction, of course, but the more crap is in orbit, the more chances there are that it could become reality.


See also: Behold the recorded history of meteorites hitting Earth, all in one interactive graph

Tags: Space


New to TreeHugger?