Researchers say Earth may soon have Saturn-like rings made of space debris

Researchers say Earth may soon have Saturn-like rings made of space debris
  • The amount of space debris has been on the rise over the past few decades.
  • Space debris can harm orbital missions, spaceflights and pilots taking the flight.
  • To clear up the space debris, researchers are developing a magnetic technology that can clear it and move it into a decaying orbit like a ring.
According to researchers, Earth may soon have its own rings just like Saturn, which is the only planet in the solar system with its own complex rings, making it stand out from the rest. However, the ring that may develop around the earth will be made of space debris which has been on the rise over the years due to defunct satellites and anti-satellite missions.

The total amount of space debris

The European Space Agency claims that there are more than 170 million space debris objects in Earth orbit. While most of them are small, there are some 29,000 of them with a size of more than 10cm.

The objects of all sizes can collide and disrupt orbital missions and space flights as well as the International Space Station (ISS) in different capacities. The junk has grown rapidly since 1957 and currently amounts to 7,500 metric tons. It is projected to grow exponentially in the future.

Harms of space debris

Earlier today, the crew of ISS was forced to take shelter in their evacuation spacecraft as potentially dangerous debris appeared near it. Eventually, the space station moved away from the object, however, it is worth noting that these objects have the potential to injure or even kill astronauts.


In a similar incident last week, the ISS had to be moved by 1240m to dodge space junk of a demolished Chinese satellite. According to Roscomos, the minimum distance between the debris and the space station was just 600 metres, posing a threat to the ISS.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a lot of this debris also falls on Earth but most of it is usually broken in the atmosphere. The report also informs that according to Jake Abbott, a professor and researcher at the University of Utah, the Earth is on course to have its own rings but they’ll just be made of junk. The professor and his team of engineers are working to clean up the junk by using magnets.

Earth’s rings

According to the researchers, they now know how to rapidly spin magnets and create magnetic fields that can manipulate space objects even if they are not made of magnetic material. Once developed, this technology can be used to make robots move the debris into a decaying orbit that in turn will look like a ring.

SpaceX Inspiration4 tourists share stunning photos of the earth
The longest lunar eclipse this century will happen early Friday morning. Here's how to see it.