Space Junk: The Dangers of Polluting Earth's Orbit

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Product Details

Twenty-First Century Books (Tm)
Publish Date
6.2 X 0.6 X 9.2 inches | 0.7 pounds
Library Binding
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About the Author

Karen Romano Young has dived to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in a tiny submarine, crunched through Arctic ice in an icebreaker, and visited labs, museum workshops, and research institutions across the U.S. to write and draw about science. She was a lead science communications fellow aboard Dr. Robert Ballard's research ship E/V Nautilus. Karen has written and/or illustrated more than 30 books for children and is the creator of Humanimal Doodles, a science comic. Her nonfiction books include Try This! and Try This Extreme! (National Geographic). Her fiction work includes The Beetle and Me: A Love Story; the graphic novel Doodlebug: a Novel in Doodles; and Hundred Percent. Her next book for Twenty-First Century Books is Whale Quest. Karen lives with her family in the woods of Bethel, Connecticut. Her next adventure is a stint at Palmer Station, Antarctica, as the recipient of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Grant. She has not yet traveled to space.


"A great cover beckons readers inside what should be a fascinating tour of the space around Earth--and it is, despite a somewhat dry and repetitious writing style. Each of the four chapters opens with a black spread that includes space photos and white type with red highlights; the following pages feature black print on white backgrounds. The book is filled with photos and sidebars that bring greater range to the text--and a few grammatical issues. There is little else available for students about this important topic for future space engineers. VERDICT: General purchase."--School Library Journal


"Humans have polluted the land, the seas, the top of Mount Everest--next stop: outer space. Well, surprise, writes science journalist Young in this limpid and engrossing (two words not normally associated with trash) overview: we've been leaving our junk in space for over 60 years now, even on the moon. Fortunately, we never got to the point of launching our nuclear waste into low orbit as once proposed, but we have sent over 6,600 satellites into space--some as big as your head, some as big as a school bus--for a number of scientific and military reasons. Their current status: 1,000 are still at work; 3,000 entered orbital decay and hurtled Earthward, mostly to burn up in the upper atmosphere due to friction, though some found terra firma. That leaves 2,600 'zombies.' Young delivers a concise history of our flinging objects into outer space--along with some excellent illustrations and photographs--and explains the numerous terms such as zombies ('nonoperational satellites') and space junk ('any human-made debris in space, ' with about 20,000 pieces at the moment and an anticipated 60,000 in 15 years). Young also looks into work being done on NASA's Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot to retrofit the zombies. In addition, wonder of wonders, countries are working on projects simply to go pick up the trash. Between her well-tempered writing style and her atypical subject, Young will have readers enthralled."--starred, Kirkus Reviews


"You may not see a clear, blue sky in quite the same way again after reading this presentation on space junk, the rapidly accumulating conglomeration of human-made debris orbiting the earth at extremely high speeds. From old rocket sections and 'zombies' (the 2,600 nonfunctioning satellites) to tiny fragments of metal and paint, well more than 100 million pieces race around the Earth, colliding and creating more debris. Since even small bits are destructive at high speeds, the danger of collision makes launching satellites or manned space vehicles increasingly risky. After explaining the facts and the issues, Young describes possible solutions, a surprisingly wide array of technologies proposed by scientists and engineers. Clearly written and concise, the book lays out the problem without sensationalizing it, while including human-interest details, such as your odds of being struck by falling space junk (at 'one in several trillion, ' decidedly low). Small, well-captioned color photos, helpful diagrams, and interesting sidebars enhance the text. A natural for booktalking to STEM-minded kids, this slender volume belongs in many libraries."--Booklist