Astronomy/Space Junk

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Question
What is the main reason that there is so much trash in orbit today?

Answer
Hi Landon,

The simple answer is because we put it there. Nearly every rocket launched for over 50 years has left debris in orbit - ranging from spent rocket stages to old satellites to paint chips. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris. Some has since spiraled back into the earth's atmosphere and burned up (some have even made it to the ground intact), but the majority are still in orbit.

Hope that helps.

Prof. James Gort  

Astronomy

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James Gort

Expertise

Questions on observational astronomy, optics, and astrophysics. Specializing in the evolution of stars, variable stars, supernovae, neuton stars/pulsars, black holes, quasars, and cosmology.

Experience

I was a professional astronomer (University of Texas, McDonald Observatory), lecturer at the Adler Planetarium, professor of astrophysics, and amateur astronomer for 42 years. I have made numerous telescopes, and I am currently building one of the largest private observatories in Canada.

Publications
StarDate, University of Texas, numerous Journal Publications

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