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You Should Worry (a Little) About Falling Space Debris

You Should Worry (a Little) About Falling Space Debris

Clean up your room: A NASA rendering of the low Earth orbit debris field
Clean up your room: A NASA rendering of the low Earth orbit debris field

Australia knows a thing or two about getting clobbered by stuff from space. It was in 1979 that America’s out-of-control Skylab space station came auguring in from orbit and scattered its remains across the Australian outback—a story captured by this memorable TIME cover. On Thursday there was a repeat performance, when a truck-sized piece of debris from a Russian rocket streaked across the skies over Melbourne—this time in the era of smartphones, which meant that videos and stills of the fireworks went viral instantly, with all sorts of sky-is-falling commentary.

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July 14, 2014


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