It's hard to think of the boundlessness of space as cluttered, but an interactive art project aims to illustrate the real danger of something most of us have never given much thought to: space junk.
Most of the known pieces of space junk out there—around 670,000 examples—measure between 1 and 10 centimeters, while about 29,000 come in at over 10. But don't let the size fool you; it's the speed that's the real danger. Earlier this year, the European Space Agency reported that possibly a paint chip or metal fragment "a few thousandths of a millimeter across" put a 7mm crack in the Cupola's window on the International Space Station. When traveling at thousands of miles per hour, even a flake can lead to catastrophe.
That's why documentary filmmaker Cath Le Couteur and musician Nick Ryan have created "Adrift," an art project meant to highlight the real danger of space junk, as reported by Motherboard. Along with London’s Royal Astronomical Society, the duo created a three-pronged effort to talk about space debris through art: Adopt, listen, and watch.
For those interested, you can "adopt" one of three pieces of space junk by following the debris on Twitter. The first is SuitSat, a Russian spacesuit filled with garbage and fitted with a radio that was thrown out of the ISS in 2006. The second is the United States's Vanguard I, the oldest satellite in orbit. The last one is the Chinese weather satellite Fengyun, which was blown apart in a weapons test in 2007; however, that act nearly doubled the amount of space debris currently in existence.
By following these space junk Twitter accounts, you can message them and they'll actually reply to you with a status update. Though the results might be a little horrifying. Or a lot horrifying:
The listening portion of this art project comes courtesy of the Machine 9, which "tracks the positions of 27,000 pieces of space junk, transforming them into sound, in real time, as they pass overhead." You can listen to the otherworldly music below:
Then there's the documentary by Le Couteur, which goes into further detail about the dangers of debris in space and how the future might play out if we don't listen to these warnings. (Hint: things won't go particularly well.) You can check out the documentary below, and visit the Adrift site for even more information on an issue that everyone should be paying a lot more attention to.