Arty way to track space junk in real-time

Web log: Daan Roosegaarde creates Space Waste Lab to highlight debris in space

There are an estimated 170 million pieces of space debris – chunks of broken satellites and rockets – orbiting the earth. Of these, 29,000 pieces are larger than 10cm and a European Space Agency-supported project known as the Space Waste Lab has created an art installation to visualise this.

Artist Daan Roosegaarde has created an outdoor light show in the Dutch city of Almere where green lasers extend far into the night sky tracking these fragments of space junk in real-time. While educating us about the existence of space junk it also serves to highlight the threat it may pose to satellite communications and space launches.

Besides turning science into art, Roosegarde is hoping the project will invite ideas on how to upcycle space junk, using it, for example, as a source material to 3D print houses on the moon.

"I'm a strong believer in co-operation between technologists and artists," said ESA director Franco Ongaro, speaking about Space Waste Lab.


“We believe in what we do as a service to society, but we are often unable to communicate its worth effectively enough. This co-operation is all the more important when dealing with issues like space debris, which may one day impact our future, and our ability to draw maximum benefits from space.”