Scientist: Earth Will Develop Rings Like Saturn



Earth will eventually develop rings composed of space junk.

So predicts Jake Abbott, a robotics professor at the University of Utah, who states “Earth is on course to have its own rings. They’ll just be made of junk.”

NASA believes there are more than 27,000 pieces of space junk being tracked by the Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensors, reported The Hill.

That is in addition to the debris in space that is too small to be tracked, but still large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions. Space debris traverses at very high speeds, approximately 15,700 mph in low Earth orbit, so even a small piece of orbital debris can impact a spacecraft.

Space junk, considered a type of pollution, has grown dramatically since 1957, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. The size of it is projected to continue to grow exponentially unless something gets done.

“Most of that junk is spinning,” Abbott said. “Reach out to stop it with a robotic arm, you’ll break the arm and create more debris.”

The former Trump administration compiled a national orbital debris research and development plan, seeking to reduce space junk by recommending spacecraft designs that limit the generation of new space debris. It also recommended improving how the U.S. tracks and characterizes space junk, urging solutions to remove space debris and repurpose it productively. 

Still, the likelihood of Earth developing rings made of space junk, similar to those of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, is not clear-cut, experts told The Hill. 

Meanwhile, a Japan-based company has begun construction of a prototype spacecraft to test strategies in space that remove debris in orbit.


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