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Fascinating graphics show uncomfortably close encounters between space debris



As satellites and space debris increase in orbit, so does the likelihood that these man-made objects will collide with each other and potentially create more debris that could jeopardize other healthy spacecraft. A new tool now shows how crowded Earth's orbit is by tracking the space objects every few seconds through their close-ups – from a selection of 1,500 orbital objects in the Earth's orbit – that will be uncomfortable within 20 minutes. As the X-axis tracks time, the Y-axis shows the short distance between two approaching space objects, ranging from five kilometers to the dreaded zero kilometers. The graph shows a series of bows showing when two pieces of debris move quickly towards each other, approaching them the nearest, and then rush away.


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