There are a reported 170 million pieces of junk floating in Earth’s upper atmosphere, but only 22,000 are being tracked. Some 7,000 tonnes of space junk circle our planet, as defunct satellites, collateral from rockets and other metals and rocks build up close to Earth. Experts have previously warned that as space debris increases, it will make it harder for rockets to escape Earth’s orbit out of fear of colliding with an object, known as the ‘Klesser syndrome’.
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano, an astronaut from the European Space Agency, needed to remove this debris shield during a spacewalk.
NASA wrote on Instagram: “Did this debris shield spark joy?
“Sometimes you need to let go of what no longer serves you!
“On the first spacewalk to repair the International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector, @AstroDrewMorgan and @europeanspaceagency astronaut Luca Parmitano removed a debris shield to access the worksite.”
Last month NASA released a video showing the extent of space junk in the Earth’s atmosphere amid fears humans are trapping themselves on the planet.
There are fears the space junk could crash into each other causing a breakdown in systems such as mobile phones, television, GPS and weather-related services which rely on the satellites.
It comes as Ralph Dinsley, founder and executive director of Northern Space and Security LTD believes we are approaching a point where it could be too late.
Mr Dinsley told Express.co.uk: “At the far end of the spectrum, worst-case scenario, it will wipe it out.
Certain companies are now working on projects to clear the space junk.
The UK Space Agency’s RemoveDEBRIS mission is one of the world’s first attempts to address the build-up of dangerous space junk.
A prototype from the company was released from the International Space Station (ISS) in late June and captured the first bit of space debris.
RemoveDEBRIS satellite, which was built by a consortium led by Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, deployed a five metre wide net which was designed to capture toaster-sized objects travelling up to 17,000 miles per hour around our planet.