Why you can't see all the space garbage in photos of Earth

There's thousands of space junk and satellites, but why can't we see them?


NSFW    SPACE JUNKYARD — There's thousands of debris floating around Earth, but none show up in images of the planet.

Writing in 2013, NASA reported there was half-a-million pieces of space debris floating near Earth. This is a mix of old satellites, rockets and spacecraft or spacecraft parts.

Whenever a spacecraft photographs the entire planet the image is typically taken from thousands of kilometers away. Space debris aren't visible at this distance.

Closer spacecraft also shoot photos of Earth. The International Space Station (ISS) is around 400 km above the planet but space debris can appear as miniscule at this range.

Much of these objects vary in size, but one of the largest spacecraft near Earth is the ISS. It measures 109 meters at its widest points, while the planet itself is over 12,000 kilometers in diameter. Meaning, even that is just 0.00085% the size of Earth.
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