Thursday, September 22, 2011

Deeeeeep Space?

I stepped out on the porch after dark last night.  We are a favored area for skywatchers inasmuch as we are far from city skyglow.  The Big Dipper, Orion, in fact all the notable constellations are visible in all their splendor here JOTOLR. 

But as I stood and watched, I began thinking what it would be like to be looking up at the sky and without warning, have a six-ton flaming school bus appear out of the night, zeroing in on our mostly finished garden.  Somehow it seems a bit cavalier that NASA proclaims it's number one priority to be ...ahem..."safety." (cough,cough)  And what would they be willing to do should the rogue space capsule descend directly onto my house?  Or smash the garage? Or make beef BBQ out of Marigold?

It would seem that some revised opinions of the "limitless" and "vast" universe are in order here...Frankly, it seems to me we've gone from vast to crowded in three or four decades. And, don't you think we need some kind of astonomical janitor service?
Here's a graphic that shows the current distribution of all the space junk (and we're not just talking wrenches, here...) that's flying around up there.  Overhead, as it were.  This is SIZABLE junk.  A six-TON school bus, to name just one object in that necklace of dots, that more resembles fur.  In fact there was an article the other day I read someplace on the Internet, which was an admission that the amount of space junk was now a serious hazard.  It's a worrisome topic with those planning future assaults on the upper atmostphere and above. 

Personally, I know that if I'm outside on a clear night, not very many minutes go by without my being able to pick out many moving objects.  Of course, I am not talking about airplanes (which also, BTW, are in much greater numbers in the night sky what with private corporate jets, military, commercial and helicopters).  I'm talking about those itty-bitty moving lights waaaaaaaay up there.  That's what the above graphic shows.  If each one of those weighs at least even a ton, we are in deeeeeeep do-do.


  1. Elora -- Am I too understand that there is a school bus out in space??? How did it get up there if there is??? This space junk is all new to me. It is scary though. Interesting graphic of the junk in space. Would like to know more about this and how it is getting up there and what countries can put it up there etc. Maybe you can post more again about the subject when you have the inclination. -- barbara

  2. Oh, dear, Barbara! I truly pulled the wool over my readers' eyes! But wait...let me explain:

    Right now, sometime within the next few hours (projected for Friday night) a six-ton piece of space junk (about the size of a school bus) is set to plummet to earth (not forecast to burn up before it lands BTW) and land somewhere between 57 degrees latitude north and 57 degrees latitude south. There is a 1 in 3200 chance of it's killing someone. Probably pretty good odds, but seems a bit uncaring on the part of NASA, but apparently they can't do anything about it. Just Google the UARS satellite and you'll get all the details. So the "school bus" in space, was simply my way of representing the danger as one contemplates a LARGE OBJECT plummeting to earth and landing who-knows-where! NASA hasn't a clue beyond the 57-57 band, where it will touch (funny word!) down.


  3. Not content with trashing the planet, we are trashing space.

    And yeah, that school bus size of stuff has been on my mind too.

  4. Well, it's looking like we'll escape being beaned by a piece of space junk here in the U. S. Not supposed to re-enter close to North America.

    How typical. We never do wage war on our home turf. We just blow up others' countries and landscapes and leave them with the trash. After all, the widows and orphans of poor countries can't be considered a constituency in any sense. We are "safe" in their voicelessness.


  5. Ooooops! Not so fast, eh? Sometime tonight or tomorrow, perhaps over the U. S.??? Twenty-six pieces of junk, the largest of which is 300 pounds....OMG...! Duck and cover!