Does the shuttle worry about space junk?
With all of the communication, military, and scientific satellites orbiting the earth, how much traffic do the space shuttle astronauts have to worry about?
That's a good question. One of the duties of the US Space Command is to track all of those satellites, bits of junk, even lost screwdrivers (!) which are in orbit. During a shuttle mission, that information is forwarded to NASA. So far, NASA has had to change trajectories only two or three times since the program began, and in neither of those cases was there any real threat of collision. You have to remember that space is BIG, and a collision between two objects, even very nearby orbits, is extremely small.
The worst collision the shuttle has yet encountered was with a paint fleck some ten years ago or so which was too small to be tracked by Space Command. It nearly shattered the windshield. So although the probabilities are small, it is a concern.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 19882 times since April 28, 2002.
Last modified: November 1, 2002 4:27:30 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)