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article imageSpace dandruff, or emerging orbital art form? 12,000 objects above the Earth

By Paul Wallis     Apr 16, 2008 in Science
The satellite swarms around the planet, at a range of 35,000km, look like mold on a pea. The lower altitude images of the swarm look like one of those wonderful, exciting, breathtaking, modern art exhibitions, seconds before you burn it down.
The European Space Agency, has generated some computer images of the 12,000 or so trackable objects in orbit. It’s quite a strange sight, the familiar blue planet covered in graphics of satellites.
You can almost hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey being drowned out by the phone uplinks.
Also spake The Daily Telegraph:
The majority of those, about 11,500 pieces,are in low Earth orbit, which is at an altitude of between 800 and 1500km, where most commercial, military, scientific and navigational satellites operate.
In this low orbit, debris can stay adrift for decades before it eventually burns up in Earth's atmosphere.
There are another 1147 pieces in geostationary orbit, where the satellite orbits in the direction of the Earth's rotation, at an altitude of approximately 35,786km.
Fortunately the rest of the DT’s article has nothing to do with the start of it, but the pictures of the satellites are interesting.
The question is what are we going to do about this unholy clutter up there?
Overjoyed as I am to know there’s a few thousand tons of junk, fired into space by Soviet Russia and people who later joined the US finance sector for peace of mind, flying majestically overhead, it could be a problem.
Reassured as I am that the only way to fix one of these things is to either shoot it down or wait for NASA to call a tiler for every shuttle mission, it could create a few situations.
Pleasantly unaware as I was that the satellite cloud looked like that, I have to say there’s only one solution I can see.
Someone will have to go up there and color coordinate.
More about Satellites, Esa, Objects orbit
 
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