Earth’s space junk problem is getting worse. And there’s an explosive component.

Before humans first started sending objects into Earth orbit, the pocket of space around our planet was clear and clean. But the launch of Sputnik 1 in October of 1957 changed everything. Since then, the space debris has been accumulating, with the amount of useless, defunct satellites vastly outnumbering the operational objects in our orbit.



Lots of space debris is orbiting Earth, including non-functional satellites.


© Provided by Live Science
Lots of space debris is orbiting Earth, including non-functional satellites.

A new annual report from the European Space Agency (ESA) has found that while we have become aware of the problem and taken steps in recent years to mitigate it, those steps are currently not keeping up with the sheer scale of space junk.

Loading...

Load Error

All spacefaring nations have contributed to the problem, which is significant: as more and more defunct objects populate near-Earth space, the risk of collision rises – which, as objects crash and shatter, produces even

Read More
Read More

Large-scale changes in Earth’s climate may originate in the Pacific

The retreat of North America’s ice sheets in the latter years of the last ice age may have begun with “catastrophic” losses of ice into the North Pacific Ocean along the coast of modern-day British Columbia and Alaska, scientists say. 

In a new study published October 1 in Science, researchers find that these pulses of rapid ice loss from what’s known as the western Cordilleran ice sheet contributed to, and perhaps triggered, the massive calving of the Laurentide ice sheet into the North Atlantic Ocean thousands of years ago. That collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet, which at one point covered large swaths of Canada and parts of the United States, ultimately led to major disturbances in the global climate (SN: 11/5/12).

The new findings cast doubt on the long-held assumption that hemispheric-scale changes in Earth’s climate originate in the North Atlantic (SN: 1/31/19). The study

Read More
Read More

Every Penguin in the World Comes from Earth’s Lost Eighth Continent

Photo credit: David Merron Photography/World Data Center for Geophysics and Marine Geology/National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA
Photo credit: David Merron Photography/World Data Center for Geophysics and Marine Geology/National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA

From Popular Mechanics

  • The oldest known crested penguin fossils found in New Zealand point to a much older species.

  • Researchers love New Zealand’s fossil record of penguins, including giant “monster penguins” that are almost 6 feet tall.

  • New Zealand is the last traces of a giant continent called Zealandia, which sank about 60 million years ago.

Researchers have found fossils they say determine almost conclusively that every penguin on Earth originally came from modern-day New Zealand. The small landmass we see today is only the topmost points of a sunken landmass once known as continental Zealandia, backnamed from the Dutch imperialist name for New Zealand: Nieuw Zeeland, not to be confused with the human-built micronation of Sealand.

You love badass history. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.

Zealandia

Read More
Read More

Meteoroid Seen And Heard Bouncing Off Earth’s Atmosphere

Last week a space rock was caught skimming the edge of our planet over Europe before heading back out to space.

The rare “earth-grazing” meteoroid was caught by Global Meteor Network (GMN) cameras in the early morning hours of September 22.

Denis Vida from GMN and Western University in Ontario shared dramatic sky camera footage of the asteroid traversing the sky. It’s odd to watch the flaming chunk make it all the way across the field of view. Typical meteors are fleeting and even the most impressive fireballs flame out in under a few seconds.

According to Vida, the meteor slipped into our upper atmosphere at a speed of 34.1 km/s, or over 76,000 miles per hour. Vida calculated it

Read More
Read More

Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth’s last mass extinction

Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth's last mass extinction
Several species of planktonic gastropods, including five sea butterflies (shelled) and two sea angels (naked). Credit: Katja Peijnenburg, Erica Goetze, Deborah Wall-Palmer, Lisette Mekkes.

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient—having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth’s most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led by Katja Peijnenburg from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands.


Sea butterflies and sea angels are pteropods, abundant, floating snails that spend their entire lives in the open ocean. A remarkable example of adaptation to life in the open ocean, these mesmerizing animals can have thin shells and a snail foot transformed into two wing-like structures that enable them to ‘fly’ through the water.

Sea butterflies have been a focus for global change research because they

Read More
Read More

Without oxygen, Earth’s early microbes relied on arsenic to sustain life

microbe
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Much of life on planet Earth today relies on oxygen to exist, but before oxygen was present on our blue planet, lifeforms likely used arsenic instead. These findings are detailed in research published today in Communications Earth and Environment.


A key component of the oxygen cycle is where plants and some types of bacteria essentially take sunlight, water, and CO2, and convert them to carbohydrates and oxygen, which are then cycled and used by other organisms that breathe oxygen. This oxygen serves as a vehicle for electrons, gaining and donating electrons as it powers through the metabolic processes. However, for half of the time life has existed on Earth, there was no oxygen present, and for the first 1.5 billion years, we really don’t how these systems worked, says lead author of the study and UConn Professor of Marine Sciences and Geosciences Pieter

Read More
Read More