North Korea’s Satellite Is Already Space Junk


Maybe if North Korea hadn’t bragged that its satellite was broadcasting “patriotic songs” it would be harder to tell when it wasn’t working. As it is, scientists haven’t heard any evidence of the supposed broadcast, and they still see it spinning out of control, so basically it sounds like the thing is now space junk. According to the South China Morning Post, the device’s two missions were to “observe earth” and air the songs, but there’s no sound coming from it. And as the New York Times explains, “the satellite, about the size of a washing machine, reportedly carries an on-board camera to observe the earth. That mission requires the spacecraft to remain quite steady.” But it’s spinning end over end, which scientists can see by its flickering. It might just be a washing-machine-sized chunk of metal now, but at least we’ll be able to track it for a while to come. Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told SCMP: “These things are hard to calculate, but roughly speaking, an object of that density at that height is going to stay up for a few years.”