Thursday, February 23, 2017

Earth Orbiting Satellites

There are many, many artificial satellites orbiting the Earth.  Some satellites are used for defense purposes, others are used for astronomy purposes, including studying Earth's climate, while others yet are used for communication and satellite TV signals.  Adding all of them up gives a very big number!  How many?  Over 1,300!?!?!  That's a lot of satellites!  I ran across this interesting article with an interactive chart showing where these satellites are located.

New interactive chart shows just how many satellites are orbiting Earth

It brings up an interesting question of how we, as a planet, handle space junk as satellites become obsolete and replaced with newer, more improved satellites.  Some satellites are intentionally dropped into a low Earth orbit and burn up upon re-entry into the atmosphere.  Other obsolete satellites are up there perpetually orbiting the Earth.  At some point this is an issue countries are going to have to deal with over risk of a collision or large pieces not burning up in the atmosphere and reaching the ground.  Although there's a 70% chance of an ocean impact given water coverage on Earth, it's still possible a chunk could hit land and even possibly a populated area.

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