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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Is Anyone Solving the Space Junk Problem?

January 25, 2012, 2:03 PM

What's the Latest Development?

In the last four months, three large spacecraft have fallen to Earth, including a Russian probe loaded with toxic fuel. Thankfully, the planet's surface is two-thirds ocean and nobody has yet been hurt. Still, there is only one organization that systematically studies space junk which has fallen to back to Earth. By examining why and how some satellites fall, Aerospace Corp.'s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies, or CORDS, hopes to prevent a crash that damages life on our planet.

What's the Big Idea?

If you think driving on the highway is bad, imagine steering your way through low-Earth orbit where some 22,000 pieces of space debris circle the Earth at 21,600 miles per hour. And those 22,000 only include pieces four inches wide or larger. Smaller pieces, which cannot be tracked by NASA, are potentially just as lethal. "An aluminum sphere half an inch in diameter has the potential to do as much damage upon collision as a 400-pound safe traveling at 60 mph." CORDS advises 'design for demise' satellites which burn up easily during reentry.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com



Is Anyone Solving the Space...

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