Let’s clean up the space junk orbiting Earth | Natalie Panek

Our lives depend on a world we can’t see: the satellite infrastructure we use every day for information, entertainment, communication and so much more. But Earth orbit isn’t a limitless resource, and the problem of space debris will get worse without a significant change to our behavior. Natalie Panek challenges us to consider the environmental impact of the satellites we rely on. Our orbital environment is breathtakingly beautiful and our gateway to exploration, she says. It’s up to us to keep it that way.

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Comment (100)

  1. Great speech, except your call for "it's up to us" makes no sense. It's not up to us, it's up to people in power. Your call for "minimizing our footprint" also makes no sense. How much I use wifi or navigation makes no difference other than that more satellites are necessary. But regardless we all need satellites, so the solution is not "reduce the footprint" or "it's up to us", rather, its international leaders coming together and making it international law to take care of space junk using the means you provided in the speech.

  2. definitely, we need to think about the space junk. we can imagine that one day when we walk on the street, some space junk will fall down and hit us.( some people think the satellites are in certain orbitals, so these satellites will rotate around the earth forever. who can promise that? maybe in the future, something will happen and change the orbital)

  3. We need to clean up Earth, our home, first. That means space debris will probably grow more and more. If we clean up space first earth will become a mess and we may have to move to different planets for life. Am I picking a side? No, I'm just saying what could happen. Each side has advantages and disadvantages, but I really don't know. BUT we can also do them both, and THAT is the side I choose.

  4. We can't stop launching satellites and just forget about gps and other satellite dependent technology, and dealing with a broken down car is way different than dealing with a broken down satellite. The answer is to not just stop replacing broken satellites when old ones die, we need to continue what we do now and find ways to remove satellites while maintaining the satellites already there.

  5. I know that on the new craft we send up have deorbiting units onboard, However,… Still not going to help the most of the junk up there. It's awesome to see you on TED Talks Natalie, I hope it triggers the minds to design a craft to take care of this job.

  6. Actually, there doesn't seem to be an international agreement or even an agreed upon convention for dealing with orbital debris but other space agencies besides NASA have agreed that it is a problem that needs to be resolved. There do seem to be a few visionary investor types who see the removal of orbital debris as an excellent business opportunity, but I don't think anyone has the kind of backing necessary to launch such an effort in the private sector. Maybe it should be given to SpaceX.

  7. In this moving talk, Natalie Panek asserts the importance of removing the space junk that is accumulated over the past 50 years. The subject is need-of-the-hour and the UN and Governments all over the world quickly jump into action and do something about this menacing problem. After all, still we don't have any Planet B.

  8. This is a really good talk and I like the suggestions or examples she gives for taking care of the space junk. I was worried that she might suggest burning up the satellites or crashing them into earth because these satellites are a part of our history and really interesting from both anthropological and technological point of views. The satellites show how shortsighted we can be as a species, the fact that they might become a problem after they malfunction was actually predicted a long time ago but no measures were taken to prevent that (as far as I know)

    If you're interested in learning more about the space junk, I would suggest 99% Invisible's 'Space Trash, Space Treasure' podcast (link here: http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/space-trash-space-treasure/) I found out about this problem through this podcast.

  9. Why does NASA stop their investment into the ISS? Cause the debris in space. People have to wake up. The space industry is not growing, it's dying. These idiots kill all the dreams of going to mars and beyond. The amount of garbage in space is unbelievable. And how she is talking about, no one cares. Has anyone seen Wall-E? That is our future.

  10. Got a question for those here who know more about it than I do.
    Would it be feasible to add some extra fuel tank and a rocket to simply thrust this junk off orbit, as it will continue that way until it hits something else?

  11. I hoped on a good talk but she seems to lack any knowledge on what the actual problem is.
    She thinks that checking the weather on her fucking phone is done trough sattelites?! besides, what car breaks down in the middle of the road if sattelite connection is lost? I guess switserland should be carefull with all their tunnels.

    Here's a list of things you forgot to talk about.

    1. Figure out if space trash is a problem ( Hint, its not)
    2. Calculate chances of these accidents happening (Hint, NASA probaly already ran the numbers on it)
    3. Understand that throwing a small rock back to earth could have dangerous consequences. (That's why they have trash orbits)

  12. Presenter: "Hey guys! We should maybe be working to stop our immediate orbit from turning into an impenetrable death trap! This is super important because things like wifi, gps, communication, and accurate whether predictions all rely on it! And here's the thing! We wouldn't even need to enact a huge cleanup project. We just need to start designing our satellites better and add cleanup procedures to our current space missions. How does that sound?!"

    REAL YOUTUBE REPLYS: SJW's terrorist sympathizers want to take over the space industry!!! We have so many problems on Earth and that means we need to completely ignore space!!! I've never seen any of this "Debris" in space photos… CONSPIRACY!!! Waahhh! the earth is really flat!

    ME:…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Please tell me you were all dropped when you were babies. It would honestly be easier than accepting the fact that I share oxygen with retards like you -.-

  13. Newton's third law of motion states what goes up MUST come down…. Besides satellites? There's no such thing as "satellites" look it up for yourself. Cables under water and radio antennas are the satellites.

  14. Interesting topic!

    I am not sure that the space program would spend more money to add some additional acceleration devices in order to take care of the satellite after it's been decommissioned.

    What's wrong with letting the satellite go far away from earth's orbit, there's millions of meteors/rocks out there anyways?

  15. Terrible delivery, whoever thought this woman could get a point across was terribly misinformed. It really, really sounds like a robot trying to convey information, like those terrible YouTube videos you see that are as low budget as it's possible to get. Her message was important and had to be said, but there are literally thousands of people who could have done a more compelling job of it. Whoever or whatever organisation decided this woman was the best candidate to put forward this information is severely deluded. Please either train her to speak to an audience or have another candidate put forward your ideas.
    Sincerely, someone who wants information not only accessible to the public but also interesting in its delivery.

  16. funny thing, none of this alleged "junk" or satelites or anything for that matter show up on a scope, binos Nikon P900 NADA Zip zero. AND the moon can be zoomed in on easier than zooming in on a building mountain or plane 5-10 miles away. The math dosent add up. Case in point. Nasa explains "supermoon" it will be 30 kilometres closer and appear 14% larger and 33% brighter, even with a calculator these made up numbers dont jive. Now let the attacks begin. Im ready
    RFB

  17. How about let's wait until we can easily do that before doing it. No, I'm not interested in cleaning up our orbit while it costs hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars.

    What is this sophistry? Thanks, TED.

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