Friday, 23 September 2011

Please take your space debris home with you

Somewhere, right now, there is a room full of boffins tracking a satellite the size of a bus as it plummets through our solar system at a rate of 5miles per second, heading for somewhere on Earth. But not, apparently, America. Oh that’s OK then.

I was listening to the radio this morning and they said that there is a 1 in 3000 chance that someone will be hit by a piece of the decommissioned satellite. Just dropped it into the end of the news like it was nothing serious. Chance of rain plus some falling space debris, make sure you pack your helmet as well as your umbrella.

I’m a little bit freaked out by the idea of something flying through the sky, Armageddon style and taking someone out. There is something like a 1 in 21 trillion chance of it being you. Chances of winning the lottery: 1 in 14million, maybe I should start buying a ticket.

One guy on the internet said that this is nothing new, over 400 pieces of debris fall to earth every year. And this is supposed to make me feel better how? Something I had never given a second thought to now apparently happens every day. I wonder what the statistics are for being hit but any piece of space debris, is it more than being struck by lightning?

Only one person has ever been hit by falling space debris, they say the person was unharmed. She must be making a fortune this week, I have seen quotes from Lottie Williams all over the internet. Her advice is to stay outside and look for it coming. As much as that appeals to me for twelve hours on a Friday night, I think I’ll take my chances on a bit of telly and bed thanks.

But this is all part of a bigger problem. The levels of space junk have now reached critical, and NASA have been called upon to start clearing it up. I don’t think it’s as simple as using a big hoover to suck all the crap out of the sky. Maybe they could just get a massive magnet, send it up there and see what sticks instead.

How can they leave so much rubbish up there? It’s like a bunch of messy kids not tidying away their toys after playing with them. It’s clearly men that are responsible, any woman would have factored in a cleaning up plan at the end of the use of the equipment (it’s tidy up time!), the men just wandered off and got distracted by the shiny buttons on some other satellite.

Apparently this is a kind of dress rehearsal for when a much larger satellite hits the Earth in November. This one will include a very large lens, don’t fancy getting a thwack on the head by that. But I think this will all become part of every day life given the amount of crap floating around up there. Pack lunches? Check. School run? Check. Took piece of decommissioned satellite found in garden to Household Waste Recycling Centre? Check.

So watch your back today. I just hope that whoever finds space debris is unharmed enough to milk the publicity for all it’s worth. Tut tut astronauts, when will you learn to tidy up as you go along?


  1. I read that NASA have advised people that if they find a piece of space debris not to touch it as it may have sharp edges!

  2. lol love it! Me and hubby where like WTF when we saw that on the news this morning!! Yes I think NASA need to employ some cleaning specialists!

  3. LOL Dad that is classic, don't worry about getting decapitated by a satellite dish, just make sure you have your Mr Bump plasters handy in case you cut yourself on it.

    Stacey, I know, call in the How Clean is Your Solar System team, they'll get it sorted in a jiffy!