'cookieChoices = {}; Check Out the Damage That Space Junk the Size of a Pencil Eraser Can Do Skip to main content

Check Out the Damage That Space Junk the Size of a Pencil Eraser Can Do

Related image

There's a ton of space junk out there — actually, about 6,300 tons. But better that it's out in space than here on Earth, right? Well, that depends. If you're an astronaut, you'd probably prefer it planet-side. At orbital velocity, a speck the size of a pencil eraser can punch a hole 5 inches deep in a chunk of aluminum, and this picture proves it.

Don't worry: this piece of aluminum wasn't a crucial part of a spacecraft that was destroyed by an errant piece of trash. This smash-up happened entirely on Earth as a demonstration of the types of dangers that are up in the exosphere. Still, it's enough to make us reconsider our dreams of visiting the ISS. The offending speck that caused this damage was tiny — it only weighed about a half-ounce (14 grams). In other words, it was about the size and mass of a pencil eraser. That crater? It's a full five inches (13 centimeters) deep.

To keep from falling to the ground, items in orbit have to be traveling something like 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour). That's how such a tiny piece of trash can wreak so much havoc.

 Image result for Check Out the Damage That Space Junk the Size of a Pencil Eraser Can Do

To simulate that kind of force in the lab, researchers used a light gas gun capable of propelling objects at an incredible velocity.

Avoiding Space Potholes

The bad news is that a very tiny piece of debris can cause major disasters. The worse news is that outer space is full of debris.

This kind of damage isn't entirely hypothetical, either — in 2016; a paint chip left a spider web crack in one of the windows of the International Space Station. You know the sheet of glass that separates the astronauts onboard from the endless void? Also in 2016, the European Space Agency's Sentinal-1A satellite was hit by a millimeter-sized chunk that left a dent 100 times bigger than itself.

The big pieces of junk can be tracked, and orbiting satellites can be moved to higher or lower orbits to avoid them.

But the small pieces, like paint chips and pencil erasers, are a lot harder to track. We've just got to make a best guess for them and plan accordingly — at least, until they send somebody up there to clean up the junk.

Via Curiosity.



Australia Doesn't Exit And People Who Live There Are Actors Paid By NASA - Flat Earthers Claim

NASA Releases 4K Video Of The Moon Ending The Moon Landing Conspiracy

NASA Admits Alcubierre Drive Initiative: Faster Than The Speed Of Light

Photographer Captures One In A Million Photo, Doesn’t Realize It Until He Gets Home

Yes, A Donut-Shaped Planet Possibly Exists