Space Debris: What Can We Learn from Gravity?

Xiaoli Bai (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Since the launch of the first satellite (Sputnik 1) in 1957, humans have created a lot of objects in orbit around Earth. Currently, the US Air Force is tracking about 23,000 Earth objects; unfortunately, among them only 5% are operational spacecraft while the other 95% are non-operational space debris. The first part of this seminar will look at key scenes in the movie Gravity, where space debris almost kills Sandra Bullock’s character, and we will determine what parts of the movie are scientifically true and which parts are just fiction. In the second part of the seminar, we will explore where space debris comes from and the current US and international mitigation guidelines. We will conclude the seminar thinking through multiple approaches to address this problem.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section 04 index 06379