What space debris can do? A test using just a light-gas gun reveals how huge it could be

  • A Reddit user has posted an image in the online forum

  • As per the post, a test using light-gas gun revealed the damage caused by space debris

  • As of now more than 500,000 pieces of debris are tracked as they orbit Earth

The US space agency NASA is currently keeping an eye on space rocks to ensure the safety and minimized the threat on Earth. Earlier scientists stated that more than 700,000 asteroids have been spotted in space and among them, at least five asteroids will turn into a threat for the earth, said the astronomers.

But apart from the asteroids, there are space debris, trash and machinery, which humans have abandoned to Earth's orbit. Recently a Reddit user posted an image stating that this test showcases how much damage a tiny amount of space debris can do to the earth and the result was quite startling.

Space debris

Also known as space junk, space pollution and space waste, the space debris is a term for defunct human-made objects in space which no longer serves a useful function. It should be mentioned that over 500,000 pieces of debris tracked so far as they orbit Earth travelling at speeds up to 17,500 mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.

While the International Space Satiation (ISS), which is about the size of a football field, can avoid these space junks by using thrusters, the space station can also use the assistance of docked spacecraft. But once in a while, ISS would get hit by debris which are pieces the size of a paint chip and then the ship goes under maintenance for weeks.

This small debris hurtle around our planet at about 15,000mph. Or 14.17 g-force. Or 24,140kph. The Reddit user who claimed to work in the aerospace field posted an image of what a 1/2oz of space debris can do to a block of solid aluminium. The result of the test, which was done by a light-gas gun, showed a huge five-inch deep crater on the solid aluminium.

The post has already received thousands of comments and one of them stated: "These are done using light gas guns. A way of super accelerating a projectile up to the kilometers per second range. These are normally used to simulate space based impacts like meteors on everything."

Unknown facts about space junk

Between 1965 and 1967, during the Cold War, US fired hundreds of thousands of tiny needles into space to try for what could best be described as high-powered radio signals. But these needles clumped together into groups and 50 years later there are about 38 of these clumps still in the orbit. When they enter Earth's atmosphere they burn up.

Here it should be noted that a French satellite was hit and damaged by debris from a French rocket in 1996 while the rocket was exploded a decade earlier. On Feb. 10, 2009, a Russian satellite collided with a functioning US Iridium commercial satellite, which was destroyed after the hit but not before adding over 2,000 pieces of trackable debris to the inventory of space junk. China's 2007 anti-satellite test, which used a missile to destroy an old weather satellite, also added over 3,000 pieces of debris in the space.

space junk
space junk jpl.nasa.gov
Related topics : Space