US and Russian satellites smash into each other

It has taken surprisingly long but two satellites, one US and the other a Russian, have smashed into each other high above the Earth. With approximately 18,000 pieces currently being tracked in space it's impressive that it took until now for a collision to actually occur.

"They collided at an altitude of 790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon Washington time," said Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The U.S. space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both objects."

Currently there are about 600 pieces of debris that are being tracked that are a direct result of the collision; it is being assessed if any of the pieces will pose a threat to the ISS (International Space Station).

The two satellites, the US being owned by Iridium which assisted in satellite phone connectivity and the Russians, a decommissioned (read: dead) "communications relay station launched in June 1993".

When asked about who was at fault for the collision NASA responded "they ran into each other. Nothing has the right of way up there. We don't have an air traffic controller in space. There is no universal way of knowing what's coming in your direction".

It is expected that all of the debris will eventually burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Until that happens, it's only 600 more objects that NASA now has to track when prepping for shuttle launches.

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We sure need some type of cleanup otherwise we will get to a point where this will actually become a problem. Perhaps make it compulsory to have an inbuilt decommissioning mechanism so that these objects can be destroyed when they are nearing their end ?

Those are not real size! Majority are less than size human.

If showed real size they would be smaller than pixel so image be just earth, it was exaggerated to show how good they are tracking.

Think about it!

This will not become a normal thing and blown out proportion regarding number objects.

17,000 objects from 10cm in size.
Now lets take 17,000 blind people spread them around earth and sea and different heights.
Over 50% in stationary orbit above earth also at, rest moving predetermined path, unless goes wrong.
Now blow earth up to 3x size the blind people become further apart.

Now compare that to a lot bigger planes and a lot more and lower.

The chances random collisions is rare even if all satellites randomly moved around.

Lets not blow this out proportion like press have.

wow that's a lot of debris, have there been any sightings of the sun getting blocked by passing debris? Cos I haven't heard of any.