Space Junk - The Solutions

February 25, 2008

Since, on average, one items enters the atmosphere per day, this year 310 additional items will enter the Earth’s atmosphere (this year is a leap year), next year 365 items will enter the atmosphere, and so on.

2008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2013  2014

310 + 365 + 365 + 365 + 366 + 365 + 365 = 2501

So if we start counting today, in 2014 2,300 pieces of space junk will have entered Earth’s atmosphere.

To solve this question we will use the formula time = distance/rate. At the point that the two pieces of space junk meet they will have traveled for the same length of time but the piece of junk that started behind the first will have traveled 1000 miles further than the one that started in the front. We can use this information to set up two equations with the same variables.

T = d/17,000

T = (d + 2)/17,500

Since we established that they travel for the same length of time, we can set the two equations equal to each other.

d/17,000 = (d + 1000)/17,500

d = 34,000 miles

First we need to find out the length of the space junk’s orbit.

C = 2πr = 53721.234315 miles

Now we can divide this distance by the speed at which the junk travels.

53721.234315/16,500 = 3.3 hours, to the nearest tenth

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