Earth’s space junk problem is getting worse. And there’s an explosive component.

Before humans first started sending objects into Earth orbit, the pocket of space around our planet was clear and clean. But the launch of Sputnik 1 in October of 1957 changed everything. Since then, the space debris has been accumulating, with the amount of useless, defunct satellites vastly outnumbering the operational objects in our orbit.

A new annual report from the European Space Agency (ESA) has found that while we have become aware of the problem and taken steps in recent years to mitigate it, those steps are currently not keeping up with the sheer scale of space junk.

All spacefaring nations have contributed to the problem, which is significant: as more and more defunct objects populate near-Earth space, the risk of collision rises – which, as objects crash and shatter, produces even more space debris.

The hazards have been prominent in the last year. We have not only watched

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Large-scale changes in Earth’s climate may originate in the Pacific

The retreat of North America’s ice sheets in the latter years of the last ice age may have begun with “catastrophic” losses of ice into the North Pacific Ocean along the coast of modern-day British Columbia and Alaska, scientists say. 

In a new study published October 1 in Science, researchers find that these pulses of rapid ice loss from what’s known as the western Cordilleran ice sheet contributed to, and perhaps triggered, the massive calving of the Laurentide ice sheet into the North Atlantic Ocean thousands of years ago. That collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet, which at one point covered large swaths of Canada and parts of the United States, ultimately led to major disturbances in the global climate (SN: 11/5/12).

The new findings cast doubt on the long-held assumption that hemispheric-scale changes in Earth’s climate originate in the North Atlantic (SN: 1/31/19). The study

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Meteoroid Seen And Heard Bouncing Off Earth’s Atmosphere

Last week a space rock was caught skimming the edge of our planet over Europe before heading back out to space.

The rare “earth-grazing” meteoroid was caught by Global Meteor Network (GMN) cameras in the early morning hours of September 22.

Denis Vida from GMN and Western University in Ontario shared dramatic sky camera footage of the asteroid traversing the sky. It’s odd to watch the flaming chunk make it all the way across the field of view. Typical meteors are fleeting and even the most impressive fireballs flame out in under a few seconds.

According to Vida, the meteor slipped into our upper atmosphere at a speed of 34.1 km/s, or over 76,000 miles per hour. Vida calculated it

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Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth’s last mass extinction

Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth's last mass extinction
Several species of planktonic gastropods, including five sea butterflies (shelled) and two sea angels (naked). Credit: Katja Peijnenburg, Erica Goetze, Deborah Wall-Palmer, Lisette Mekkes.

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient—having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth’s most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by Katja Peijnenburg from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands.


Sea butterflies and sea angels are pteropods, abundant, floating snails that spend their entire lives in the open ocean. A remarkable example of adaptation to life in the open ocean, these mesmerizing animals can have thin shells and a snail foot transformed into two wing-like structures that enable them to ‘fly’ through the water.

Sea butterflies have been a focus for global change research because they

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Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth’s last mass extinction — ScienceDaily

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient — having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth’s most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by Katja Peijnenburg from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands.

Sea butterflies and sea angels are pteropods, abundant, floating snails that spend their entire lives in the open ocean. A remarkable example of adaptation to life in the open ocean, these mesmerizing animals can have thin shells and a snail foot transformed into two wing-like structures that enable them to “fly” through the water.

Sea butterflies have been a focus for global change research because they make their shells of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate that is 50 percent more soluble than calcite, which other important open

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Without oxygen, Earth’s early microbes relied on arsenic to sustain life

microbe
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Much of life on planet Earth today relies on oxygen to exist, but before oxygen was present on our blue planet, lifeforms likely used arsenic instead. These findings are detailed in research published today in Communications Earth and Environment.


A key component of the oxygen cycle is where plants and some types of bacteria essentially take sunlight, water, and CO2, and convert them to carbohydrates and oxygen, which are then cycled and used by other organisms that breathe oxygen. This oxygen serves as a vehicle for electrons, gaining and donating electrons as it powers through the metabolic processes. However, for half of the time life has existed on Earth, there was no oxygen present, and for the first 1.5 billion years, we really don’t how these systems worked, says lead author of the study and UConn Professor of Marine Sciences and Geosciences Pieter

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Earth’s New Mini-Moon is Absolute Garbage

From Popular Mechanics

  • An object called 2020 SO is about to briefly become a “mini-moon,” captured by Earth’s orbit.

  • There’s a chance, however, that the object in question may actually be a piece of space junk leftover from a mission that launched more than 50 years ago.

  • This isn’t the first time Earth has captured a mini-moon, nor is it the first time we’ve mistaken space junk for an asteroid.

A strange object is hurtling toward Earth and, according to estimations of its trajectory, it will briefly become a mini-moon.

🌌 You like badass space stuff. So do we. Let’s nerd out over the universe together.

Earth has captured mini-moons before, so this new one, 2020 SO, wouldn’t be the first of our moon’s tiny companions. But there’s something strange about it: Astronomers believe the object may actually be a piece of human-made space junk that’s, well, returning home.

Some

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A Giant Leap Towards Defeating Astronomy’s Greatest Enemy: Earth’s Atmosphere

In astronomy, seeing farther and fainter than ever before requires three simultaneous approaches.

1.) Building bigger telescopes, gathering more light and yielding higher resolutions.

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