Earth’s orbital field has started to look like a hillbilly’s front yard, and if we’re don’t start cleaning up the clutter now, the junk will start crashing into each other, causing extensive damage to the things we actually want up there. That’s the report coming out of this month’s four day space conference in Darmstadt, Germany, and to be quiet honest, the figures themselves are perhaps even more alarming.

According to the AFP, the number of useless items orbiting around the Earth has tripled since 1978. There are now more than 23,000 objects at least four inches across that are spinning around the planet at more than 15,000 miles per hour, and math tells us these items will eventually crash into each other. Because of all the kinetic energy such a crash would create, it’s entirely possible it could punch a hole in the International Space Station or destroy a functioning satellite, which would only add to our junk problem.

Thus far, there have been several proposals for retrieving the items or pushing them further out into space, but at the moment, all of those ideas are very much still in the conception phase. Hopefully, a solid choice will emerge from the pack, allowing the international community to come together and implement said idea to clear up space.

Once upon a time, the goal as it related to space was very clear: exploring. Deep down, most people still want that same goal, but more often than not, the day-to-day rigors win up being devoted to practical concerns or complete nonsense.

We’ll keep you updated when a firm decision is made. Here’s to hoping all involved stay on top of the problem.

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