from the what-a-piece-of-junk! dept.
Scientists sounded the alarm Tuesday over the problems posed to space missions from orbital junk—the accumulating debris from mankind's six-decade exploration of the cosmos.
In less than a quarter of a century, the number of orbiting fragments large enough to destroy a spacecraft has more than doubled, a conference in Germany heard.
And the estimated tally of tiny objects—which can harm or degrade spacecraft in the event of a collision, and are hard to track—is now around 150 million.
"We are very much concerned," said Rolf Densing, director of operations at the European Space Agency (ESA), pleading for a worldwide effort to tackle the mess.
"This problem can only be solved globally."
Travelling at up to 28,000 kilometres (17,500 miles) per hour, even a minute object impacts with enough energy to damage the surface of a satellite or manned spacecraft.
If you always wondered why the Death Star had a trash compactor, here's your answer.