Space Junk – ISS incident recalls awesome Planetes
June 28, 2011
I watched an anime several years ago called Planetes, that opened my eyes to the very real problem of space junk. Periodically since then I have been reminded of Planetes, such as today, when I read the following headline:
6 space station astronauts take shelter in lifeboats from dangerous orbiting junk
According to the article, “The unidentified object was predicted to pass within 800 or so feet.” Since objects orbit the Earth at incredible speeds (roughly 10 kilometers or 6 miles per SECOND), even small fragments can cause serious problems.
All of this was a foreseen problem, and a very good discussion of the problem is the anime Planetes, which aired in 2003-4. I have a copy of the US release with extra interviews with NASA scientists who specialize in the problem of tracking space debris, and a UK re-release just came out in a budget format this week. It is well worth watching. Here is the promo:
In case it isn’t clear, the story revolves around people who work in space, clearing up the junk, and thus making it safe for others. All the while they are dismissed as trash handlers. It is unusual to get a show that makes use of adults, this point was just made in a comment by Son Gohan about Tiger & Bunny. With Planetes, not only do we get to see adults in action, and insight into a growing problem, but we also get a very good near-future Science Fiction series. I really recommend it.
The OP integrates imagery from humanity’s quest to explore space with character introductions. The song isn’t the greatest, but it fits the energy and sense of exploration quite well.
So remember, watch Planetes, and let’s keep space clean for the next generation!