It’s a beautiful night and you are out camping with your friends, spouse or family, gazing at the bedazzling sky filled with stars. You see a shooting star, apparently, the first thing you do is make a wish to the star (Shooting stars are known to fulfil people’s wishes, not talking science obviously).
But, are you sure it was a shooting star? It can be space debris or minute particles floating in space near the earth’s atmosphere, or it can be an astronaut’s faeces. Yes! You read that right, it can be an astronaut’s ‘poop’.
NASA created a detailed infographic depicting astronaut poop burning like a shooting star
The infographic depicts an American astronaut Scott Kelly spending time on the International Space Station. NASA released the statistics back in 2015 about Kelly’s experiences and the number of experiments conducted during Scott Kelly’s year in space.
Kelly would have witnessed around 11,000 sunrises and sunsets, while we on the earth could manage only 684 in a year. Scott would have run about 650 miles on a specialized space treadmill, with a speed that would take him around 216,000 years to run to Mars. Kelly would have drank about 730 litres of recycled urine and sweat during the period (at least something to help us feel better than the astronauts)
What are Shooting Stars and why do faeces falling through space look like shooting stars?
Shooting stars are broken pieces of rocks and dust that can vary in size, from the size of a football to that of a grain of sand. These particles when near the earth, enter its atmosphere at a very high speed, get heated up, glow and burn down. The frequencies of shooting stars can vary depending on the earth’s position, increasing greatly at certain times of the year.
Shooting stars were thought to be ascending or descending human souls by the Greeks, while they were thought to be fallen angels or devils by Jews and Christians. Greek playwright Aristophanes had a more flamboyant imagination. Shooting stars, he claimed, were “the spirits of poor people, drunkenly going home after dinner at a rich star.”
The Faeces turning into shooting stars
When solid faeces is exposed to the vacuum of space and freeze-dries, all of the harmful germs are eliminated. The garbage is then kept in containers until there is enough rubbish in storage to launch it from the space station. All that’s left of the astronaut faeces is for it to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere as a shooting star.
Pollution in the Space
Our universe is really fascinating, but we the humans are specialists in destroying the environment and even space these days. The growing pollution around the earth’s orbit from the broken down satellites to waste materials released by the space station is a matter of concern.
Humans have been launching thousands of projectiles into space and unlike the earth’s atmosphere space is not capable of disintegrating them. All of the junk flying through space is like old bugs petrified in amber – it’s an unblemished record of sixty years of irresponsibility. So far, we’ve been free to dump as much as we want without worrying about the repercussions. Even still, much as the effects of deforestation and marine pollution, our activities in the atmosphere have an influence on humans. Space is a holy place, much like the mountains and streams on the ground.
The tiniest of particles orbiting the earth travels with a speed of around 17,500 miles per hour and can cause serious damage to satellites, space stations and spacecraft. A portion of the space trash in low Earth orbit will gradually lose height and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere; nevertheless, heavier debris may occasionally collide with Earth, causing environmental damage.