Infographic: The world's satellites orbiting Earth, by nation

In a neat infographic, Austrian designer Michael Paukner maps out all the satellites and large debris orbiting the Earth -- and which nations are responsible for it.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Ever wondered about all the junk orbiting the Earth?

(There's quite a bit, you know.)

Much of that debris is thanks to our preoccupation with sending rockets carrying satellites and other things into space.

Unfortunately, that space debris is quite harmful to satellites, spacecraft and the working astronauts of the International Space Station.

In a neat infographic using data from the UCS Satellite Database, Austrian designer Michael Pauknerattempts to map out all the stuff orbiting the Earth -- and who's responsible for it.

Each nation's share is illustrated in a series of concentric circles: white indicates active satellites, gray designates dysfunctional satellites and black represents pieces of orbital debris greater than 10 centimeters in diameter -- sometimes the result of the destruction of an old satellite.

Which nation is the worst offender? Why, none other than the United States, followed by Russia and China.

In fact, the problem is so bad that The Pentagon's experimental DARPA arm issued a call last September for solutions to clean up space debris.

From that declaration:

Since the advent of the space-age over five decades ago, more than thirty-five thousand man-made objects have been cataloged by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. Nearly twenty-thousand of those objects remain in orbit today, ninety-four percent of which are non-functioning orbital debris. These figures do not include the hundreds-of-thousands of objects too small to be cataloged, but still large enough to pose a threat to approximately nine-hundred operational satellites in orbit around the Earth. In addition, collisions between debris objects could potentially lead to a continuously growing debris population, thus increasing the risk to operational satellites.

Sounds like we need a space-age dust buster, if you ask me.

Follow Michael Paukner on Twitter.

[via Fast Company]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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