There’s a lot of space junk orbiting the Earth these days.

Right now, NASA is tracking about 20,000 pieces of spent rocket parts, defunct satellites and bits of debris larger than a softball that are hurtling around the planet at more than 17,000 mph. There are also about 500,000 objects the size of a marble or larger being tracked as they orbit Earth and millions more that are too small to track, according to NASA.

Those huge numbers can be hard to visualize, but a new video and interactive produced by a scientist and released by the Royal Institution of Great Britain gives viewers a little taste of just how crowded it has become up above the planet since the first satellite made it to orbit. Read more…

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This graphic shows the massive growth of space junk orbiting Earth since 1957