reply to post by esteay812
esteay....technically, 'outer space' would best be defined as well beyond the Earth-Moon System.
Most of the 'space-junk' that we are concerned with is in LEO. or 'low earth orbit'....just a few hundred miles up. NORAD tracks 25,000+ objects
in this realm.
'Outer Space' is a subjective term, I suppose....to me, it means 'Interstellar Space'. But, that's just me.
To be clear on terms....'inTRAstellar' means within a star's planetary system. SO, in our case, it would entail all space out as far as Neptune's
orbit....but, that limits us to two-dimensional thinking. We must imagine a 'sphere' that is the radius of Neptune's orbit, roughly....to
encompass what we call 'our' Solar System....except, complication....the Oort Cloud...many, many more AUs out....it's going to need a consensus to
determine the actual boundaries, some day in the future.
But....that hyperbole is best left to another topic...
The fact remains: Certain objects in LEO will decay, and re-enter....depending on a vast number of variables, and may not be completely predictable
Factors affecting various trends: The recent Russian booster stage....was never meant to enter a stable orbit....its re-entry trajectory was a
concern, as noted by the calls to 911 after the fact.
Just last week, a piece of debris being tracked posed a threat to the ISS....because it was going to possibly be within a few miles, but again, to
erron the side of safety....since Discovery was docked to ISS, it used thrusters to slowly maneuver the belly of the Shuttle to provide just a very
small delta-v....via atmospheric friction....to increase the safety range of the 4-inch object that was being tracked.
Again, this was a short-lived event....since, if you have any understanding of how things work while on orbit, you would know that the orientation of
the object has NOTHING to do with the surface of the Earth.
It's like the story of the clock that is broken, the hands stuck at the 4 o'clock position. Well, it's right twice a day!!!!
UNLESS a spacecraft intentionally maneuvers to change, pitch, roll or yaw....it will remain in its last attitude, irrespective of the earth below, or
until influences by some outside force....such as atmospheric drag.....
I've gone way off (must have been influences in some way....) but I hope it explains a bit, to those willing to listen and, perhaps, learn along the
way. For, it is a good thing to deny ignorance --- or better yet, to promote understanding.