MAY 20, 2018 05:02 AM PDT

What happens when an astronaut drops something in space?


This is the story of a spatula that became a satellite. A spatula that got untethered from the astronaut that it was on only to go whizzing off into orbit at 17,500 miles per hour.

According to the European Space Agency, space debris is defined as "all non-functional, human-made objects, including fragments and elements thereof, in Earth orbit or re-entering into Earth's atmosphere. Human-made space debris dominates over the natural meteoroid environment, except around millimeter sizes." NASA astronaut Pier Sellers says that when you're out in space, space debris is the most feared enemy because even the smallest objects flung at such fast speeds can cause great damage. It's impossible to monitor smaller pieces of space debris and therefore preparing for such collisions is basically a shot in the deep, dark universe. There are approximately 1 trillion objects bigger than 0.1 mm in orbiting the Earth right now.

Every orbital launch results in debris from rocket parts. Sometimes these parts will stay in orbit, sometimes they'll burn up, sometimes they fall into the ocean. But other times, they crash into something they shouldn't. Find out what happened to the spatula. Watch the video now.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
All About NASA's Upcoming Plan to Explore Europa
Planetary scientists have been in search of potentially habitable worlds for years, and perhaps one of the most promising places we have yet to explore in...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
How Astronomers Determine the Universe's Age
The universe is so old and so large that the Earth is but an insignificant speck of dust by comparison. Astronomers are always trying to make sense of the...
NOV 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 21, 2019
Deep-Sea Critters Opportunistically Munch on a Sunken Whale Carcass
The ocean floor can be a lifeless and desolate place to be; so much so that marine animals have taken notice. It’s not often that you’ll find f...
NOV 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 21, 2019
The Penguin Life Isn't Always Easy
Mother nature isn’t kind to wildlife; many assume their position as either the prey or the predator depending on the cards they’re dealt. Unfor...
NOV 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 21, 2019
Protein Batteries - Talk About "Power Bars"
The pioneers behind lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries were awarded Nobel prize this year. Still, scientists around the world already wish to move beyond this...
NOV 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 21, 2019
Radioactive Spill? Self-propelled Microbots to the Rescue
Scientists have been looking for an effective method to clean up radioactive elements in industrial wastewater and accidental spill, to support and boost t...
Loading Comments...