Recently students in our fifth grade have been studying space and the solar system. Several students were researching early space flight and satellites and this lead to a discussion about items in orbit around the earth and how many items there are. A little research with Google lead to an interesting data file created by Analytical Graphics, Inc. for Google Earth that tracks in orbit the over 12,000 items in space that are currently tracked by the United States Strategic Command. Once launched in Google Earth, the data file provides information such as the type of item, the country of orgin, its operational status, and also it projected orbit. The data file is automatically updated every 30 seconds. It is interesting to note that of the over 12,000 items tracked, only about 3000 are operational satellites, the rest are retired satellites, spent rocket bodies and various types of space debris.
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