scorecardCan you name these new space trash constellations? 10 new signs highlight consequences of space garbage
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Can you name these new space trash constellations? 10 new signs highlight consequences of space garbage

Can you name these new space trash constellations? 10 new signs highlight consequences of space garbage
LifeScience3 min read
Imagine taking your date out one night in hopes of dazzling them with your astronomy rizz and naming every constellation in the sky — sounds super romantic, no? Except, a long, hard look at the sky through your telescope, unravels patterns unlike any constellations you’ve ever seen since childhood. It then dawns on you that those aren’t star clusters, but human-made garbage — quite a bit of it, in fact.

Humanity has had a tradition of leaving its mark wherever it went for a long time now. The only difference is that while early human ancestors left some harmless wall art in the caves they inhabited, leaving a trail of trash is more our style. And sadly, space hasn’t been spared either.

Over 160 million pieces of human-made debris clutter Earth's orbit, whizzing around at speeds of 15 kilometres per second! Even a tiny piece can wreak havoc, potentially destroying satellites critical for our daily lives. This space junk jeopardises everything from GPS navigation to internet access, financial services, and even monitoring environmental disasters.

Enter Space Trash Signs, a groundbreaking initiative raising awareness about this invisible threat. Launched by a coalition of aerospace companies, scientists, and artists, Space Trash Signs uses a unique approach: constellations made entirely of space debris!

The company wanted to make space debris tangible for the public and educate them about the daily life consequences. Constellations were created as a way of mapping and understanding the stars in the night sky. This served as inspiration to propose the same for space debris.

Each of these ten "trash constellations" represent a different consequence of space pollution. "The Broken Compass" warns of losing GPS, impacting billions and crippling modern aviation. "The Great 404" signifies limited internet access, potentially isolating entire communities. "The Lost Harvest" highlights the danger to vital environmental data collected by satellites, data that helps prevent famines and environmental disasters.

Spotting space junk isn’t possible for the common man even though there is so much of it because they do not emit light and aren’t nearly as massive as stars. But Space Trash Signs builds on our natural fascination with the fiery bodies, says Alex Schill, Chief Creative Officer at Serviceplan Group. It serves as a powerful way to educate people about a critical issue that affects us all.

However, Space Trash Signs isn't just about grabbing attention. The constellations are built using real-time data from Privateer, a space observation company co-founded by Steve Wozniak. This data pinpoints the location, size, and even origin of each piece of debris. For example, "The Lost Harvest" appears over the Amazon rainforest, highlighting the threat to this biodiverse region.

The initiative doesn't stop there. Space Trash Signs come alive in over 700 planetariums worldwide, offering an immersive experience. They're also integrated into popular AR stargazing apps, bringing the issue directly to the fingertips.

A clever digital campaign further emphasises the consequences. Imagine encountering staged website errors, failed parcel tracking, or missing weather forecasts. These seemingly random glitches all lead to the Space Trash Signs website, where you can learn more, explore the constellations, and even take action.

“There are some internationally agreed upon guidelines on debris clean-up and prevention. But none of these mechanisms has enforceability. If we don’t change our behavior, space will become unusable,” says chief scientist Dr Moriba Jah, Privateer.

Space Trash Signs is a growing movement, uniting a diverse group of organisations and individuals under the banner of a clean and sustainable space future.

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