Skip navigation
No more
Know more

This map shows where our space garbage is. This quote shows why you need to be afraid of it.

This map shows where our space garbage is. This quote shows why you need to be afraid of it.

The U.S. Strategic Command is aware of more than 21,000 man-made objects in orbit larger than 10 centimeters, but there are hundreds of thousands of even smaller pieces circling the Earth that can’t be tracked. Many of them are moving at extremely high speeds, some as fast as 22,000 mph. “A 10-centimeter sphere of aluminum would be like 7 kilograms of TNT,” one NASA scientist explained.

This map comes from NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office. It shows all the…stuff humans have thrown into orbit since Sputnik, including bits of satellites that have cracked apart, or old upper-launch vehicle stages.

This is a huge problem. But there’s a solution that’s easier than you think. And no, it’s not lasers.

Ezra Klein | October 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Know more: Space is full of garbage. Here's why we need to tax it.
No more
Know more
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The U.S. counties with the most commuters
Ana Swanson
ADVERTISEMENT
No more
Know more
Looking for a high-earning major? Follow the men
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The highest speed limits across the U.S., in 1 map
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Africa’s incredible population surge, charted
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The most beautiful and ugliest counties in America, ranked
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Who’s winning the superhero battle for the box office
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
From alien invasions to robot cats, a timeline of science fiction’s most famous predictions
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The incredible growth in women’s clothing sizes, charted
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Why cars and cities don’t mix, in 1 image
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The most introverted and extroverted states in America
Ana Swanson