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The Kessler Syndrome: Closing Off Earth From Space

Lower Earth Orbit extends as far up as 1,242 miles (2,000 km). Over 60% of all objects reside in this area. Image by the European Space Agency,. Not to scale.
The 2013 film “Gravity” explores the devastating effects of space debris hitting a space shuttle. While nothing so devastating has happened in real life, the ISS has been hit before, with NASA cautioning crew members to take refuge in the Soyuz capsules which can detach and return to Earth. However, the capsules themselves have damage from debris.
RemoveDEBRIS is a project that utilizes nets to capture trash. It has shown to successfully retrieve targets during experiments.
Some satellites are put into the “graveyard orbit” — a shift 200 miles (322 km) up in their position where they won’t interfere with functioning equipment. These satellites are likely to stay there forever, unlike objects in lower Earth orbit which might disintegrate in our atmosphere. Image by Dotted Yeti.



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Ella Alderson

Astrophysics student, writer for over a decade. A passion for language and the unexplored universe. I aim to marry poetry and science.