Safe Paths in Space

A weather satellite in space

Close your eyes. Picture yourself running through a field covered with trash. It would be dangerous! You could trip or get cut as you ran through the garbage. This same problem happens in space!

Satellites are objects that move around Earth. Many satellites are made by humans. They allow us to watch TV, use the Internet, and use certain phones. When a satellite is put into space, little pieces break off. These pieces continue to circle Earth.

The pieces of satellites that have broken off are called space junk. Space junk can be a problem because these little pieces can hit other objects in space.

Now, close your eyes and picture a spaceship trying to enter outer space but getting hit by little pieces of metal, plastic, or glass. This could cause a lot of damage to the spaceship and would be dangerous for astronauts!

Luckily, NASA and the U.S. government have found a way to avoid these collisions. They use computers to make maps showing the space junk around Earth. They use these computer maps to design a safe path for spaceships to use when they travel into outer space.

What Can You Do? Where do you see old, unused objects in your neighborhood? What can you do to help get rid of this junk?

Photo Credit: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock