Chance of space junk killing someone is a scary ten per cent, say scientists

Imagine, dear Daily Star reader, that you're an ant.

Now imagine that, as an ant, you fall victim to human rubbish being dumped on you.

And while there are millions of pieces of rubbish dumped on the streets every day, it's probably quite rare that your friendly neighbourhood ant would end up getting hit by it.

READ MORE: 'Out of control' Chinese space rocket debris has finally crash landed on Earth

Now – and there is a point to this strange analogy – pretend the ant is a human and the every day rubbish is space rubbish.

Experts have found that humans getting hit by the thousands of pieces of space junk floating above us is actually quite a real threat to our lives.

According to a study posted in the space journal Nature Astronomy, there is a “small but significant risk” of parts of rockets left in space to float forever actually re-entering the planet's atmosphere over the next decade – estimated to be around 10%.

The team behind the study comprises of Michael Byers from the Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues Ewan Wright, Aaron Boley and Cameron Byers.

They claim: “Most space launches result in uncontrolled rocket body reentries, creating casualty risks for people on the ground, at sea and in aeroplanes.

“These risks have long been treated as negligible, but the number of rocket bodies abandoned in orbit is growing, while rocket bodies from past launches continue to re-enter the atmosphere due to gas drag.

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“Using publicly available reports of rocket launches and data on abandoned rocket bodies in orbit, we calculate approximate casualty expectations due to rocket body reentries as a function of latitude.

“On the issue of uncontrolled rocket body reentries, the states of the Global South hold the moral high ground: their citizens are bearing most of the risks, and unnecessarily so, since the technologies and mission designs needed to prevent casualties exist already.”

Although the report didn't give specific numbers of just how high of a chance you have of being hit by space debris, it appears to be worrying enough that they have called on governments world-wide to fix the issue.

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