As you see from the post dates, this blog is no longer maintained.

10.8.07

How many satellites are there in space?

As I've been gathering information for this blog, I've begun to wonder just how many satellites there are in space? These web pages have helped me find some answers:
I started here at the Science Canada forum. (Be sure to read all the way to the bottom - the page has been updated.)

That page led me to this one, SATCAT Boxscore which is updated daily. It lists the number of satellites by country. (You'll need to know country abbreviations for it to make sense (for example, CH = Switzerland; US = United States) Fortunately, if you click on "Source" you'll come to this page which will tell you everything you need to know!

This Wikipedia page shows a Timeline of artificial satellites and space probes. It was updated fairly recently, and links out to information about everything listed!

But is there a short answer? I went to one of my favorite science sites, "The Naked Scientist" (I listen to their podcast every week!) and found this answer:

"We've obviously got one natural satellite, our Moon. But we've actually launched around 8000 artificial satellites up into orbit around the Earth. However, that's not all there is orbiting around the Earth. As well as these 8000 solid lumps of whole satellite that are up there, we've got lots and lots of little bits of junk swirling around. Now that can be anything from a nut and a bolt that's been lost to astronaut gloves that have been lost during space missions. This stuff can actually be quite a problem, because as it's up there whizzing around at kilometres per second, if it hits another satellite it can seriously damage it and blow some more bits off. So all the time this stuff is accumulating, but there's no easy way to go up and remove it. Eventually all of it will slow down and fall into the Earth but it's up there for a long period of time."

"The Naked Scientists are a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. Their award winning BBC weekly radio programme, The Naked Scientists, reaches a potential audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web." You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, or at the website.