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We're entombing the Earth in an impenetrable shell of dead satellites


Sputnik’s successful launch in 1957 marked a milestone in human history as the first time a man-made object had ever orbited the Earth. But little we understood of the space-based SNAFU we were courting with the advent of satellite technology. In the 64 years since, our planet’s night skies have become increasingly congested. Today more than 3,000 satellites circle the Earth and they are joined by millions of pieces of space debris — such as bits of broken satellite, discarded rocket parts and flecks of spacecraft paint. NASA estimates that there’s around 6,000 tonnes of debris in Low Earth Orbit alone.

This orbital refuse doesn’t just create navigation hazards for astronauts, it also reflects sunlight down to the surface, interfering with ground-based telescope observations. A study recently accepted by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters suggests that there is now nowhere on Earth ...


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