The largest garbage dump on Earth might be in space.
In low Earth orbit — the space around our planet up to about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in altitude — more than 3,000 defunct satellites and tens of millions of smaller pieces of debris clatter around the atmosphere. And each is moving at tens of thousands of miles per hour. Sometimes, two big pieces of this so-called “space junk” crash into each other, fragmenting into yet more junk, each one a tiny bullet of trash that could critically damage satellites and spacecraft.
It’s a real problem. Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced plans to tackle that problem, using robot hugs.