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It’s a Junkyard out There

We’ve slung chunks of junk out in space and if we don’t do something about it, we’re sunk. Well, it may not be that bad, but space experts tell us that at least 10,000 four-inch-wide or larger pieces of orbiting debris beyond Earth’s atmosphere pose a threat to spacecraft and satellites. As Jeff Zweerink explains on Creation Update, an accumulation of space objects over several decades has created a zone of dangerous, speeding debris. Jeff cites a New York Times article describing the junk as “dead satellites, spent rocket stages, a camera, a hand tool”, and other assorted leftovers. Great. We’ve known about asteroid belts, but now we’ve got the junk belt to worry about. And this belt cracks a mean whip—try about 16,000 miles per hour. 

With that many objects (a conservative estimate) the cleanup requires a Herculean effort, if it can be done at all. More significantly, however, scientists say that a chain reaction of collisions will occur and may have already started. It’s like blasting a bowling ball from a cannon down a very long and wide lane and striking ten pins that in turn strike ten more and so on. Only the “pins” never slow down. All that space junk makes it increasingly difficult to launch a spacecraft through the projectile zone and to maintain expensive satellites; but it also places urgency on stargazing efforts. Yes, it’s another one of those we-live-at-the-just-right-time arguments. Unobstructed views of the universe from ground-based instruments are fading fast, so scientists are fortunate to have generated a mountain of data within a narrow window of time. And that knowledge points conspicuously to the creative artistry of the God of the Bible. Even so, Earth’s outer space is no place to be flirting around. Planes are safe, and hot-air balloon rides are cool, but space tourism might be risky. Recall the biblical admonition that “Lo, I am with you always.”