On Monday evening, the International Space Station had to change and move its orbit around the Earth in order to avoid getting hit by space junk.
What Is Space Junk?
For decades now, humans have launched rockets and satellites into space. A lot of those rockets and satellites still orbit the Earth even though they are not functioning.
The true definition of “space junk” is debris left by humans in space.
How Much Space Junk Is There?
It is hard to actually know the exact number of space junk that is orbiting Earth right now.
There are over 2,000 active satellites in orbit but over 3,000 satellites are not functioning but still are in orbit.
There are about 34,000 objects larger than 10 centimeters in size as well as millions of smaller objects that might still be devastating if they collide with something else.
International Space Station Almost Got Hit
At 8:25 p.m. ET on Monday, the International Space Station executed a “Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver” in which it fired its thrusters for 5 minutes and 5 seconds to get further away from a fragment of a former Russian spacecraft.
According to NASA, the maneuver raised the ISS’s height by 0.2 to 0.8 miles. The satellite debris would have been around three miles away from the space station if the maneuver hadn’t been made.