by Mary Beth Griggs, Popular Science
IT’S A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
Sometimes, when we post a cool picture of the Earth taken from space, Popular Science gets questions about why, if there’s so much garbage in space, we don’t see an orbital landfill circling our planet in pictures of the Earth.
No, it’s not some massive conspiracy, and yes, the space above our planet is getting increasingly and worryingly crowded with satellites and space junk. It’s just that humans and the things we build are tiny compared to the vastness of our planet. There are about 4,256 human-made satellites orbiting the Earth, of which about 1,149 are still working. Most of these are fairly small, ranging from tiny CubeSats that are only four inches on each side to communications satellites that can be over 100 feet long.
That’s still tiny when you consider that the Earth is 7,917.5 miles across.