We need sustainable space tech. One solution - bees?

It's time to rethink how satellites and other objects are made and eventually destroyed.

  • The objects humans send to space teach us a lot about the universe, but they are also cluttering it up. While some objects are close enough to be retrieved, others become dangerous, fast-moving bullets that can cause serious damage.
  • In addition to cleaning up what's already there, MIT Assistant Professor Danielle Wood says that we need to think more sustainably about the technology used in future missions. "We have to ask the question, will we respect the rights of people and the environment as we go forward in space," Wood says.
  • One possible solution is a wax-based fuel source (made of beeswax and candle wax) for satellites that would be less toxic and more affordable than currently used inorganic compounds, and that would help bring the objects closer to Earth for deorbiting and destruction.

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How space debris created the world’s largest garbage dump

Since 1957, the world's space agencies have been polluting the space above us with countless pieces of junk, threatening our technological infrastructure and ability to venture deeper into space.

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  • Space debris is any human-made object that's currently orbiting Earth.
  • When space debris collides with other space debris, it can create thousands more pieces of junk, a dangerous phenomenon known as the Kessler syndrome.
  • Radical solutions are being proposed to fix the problem, some of which just might work. (See the video embedded toward the end of the article.)
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The problem with our noisy planet

Noise causes stress. For our ancestors, it meant danger: thunder, animal roars, war cries, triggering a 'fight or run' reaction.

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Noise is a belittled threat that disrupts the functioning of people, animals, even plants. It causes stress, provokes aggression, increases the risk of heart disease. Blocking the issue of noise can bring catastrophic consequences for us.

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There’s nowhere left on Earth free of space pollution

When we look at the night sky, we may see junk instead of stars.

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  • New research has found that the entire planet is covered by light pollution from space objects.
  • Companies like SpaceX and Amazon plan to launch thousands of satellites into orbit this decade.
  • Scientists fear this space traffic will impede their ability to stare into deep space.
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Plastic pollution from face masks could devastate the environment

Masks are great, but what happens when we try to throw out a billion masks at once?

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  • A new study suggests that the huge numbers of disposable masks we're using may end up polluting the environment.
  • The materials used to make some of these masks may be especially disposed to break down into microplastic bits.
  • Once those plastic bits get into the environment they end up everywhere, including inside people.
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