It’s no secret that the Earth currently has a bit of a space junk problem. There are so many objects floating around our planet that they’re beginning to run into each other, and it’s virtually impossible to track all the defunct bits and pieces of satellites and discarded spacecraft debris. It’s a danger to astronauts and future space missions, and the problem is getting worse with each passing year. Earlier this month, the New Zealand-based private spaceflight company Rocket Lab successfully delivered its first orbital payload. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket released, along with three commercial satellites, an art installation-as-satellite called the Humanity Star.
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The satellite does not emit its own light. Instead, it bears 65 faces polished to a high shine that should reflect flashes of sunlight as the sphere tumbles through space. It will be easiest to view at dawn and dusk when the Sun’s light from below the horizon illuminates the satellite against a darkened sky. During the daytime, the Humanity Star will be washed out by sunlight. During the night, when the sun is on the opposite side of the Earth, no light will reach the object. The launch went off without a hitch, but along with the satellites was an unexpected delivery in the form of a giant, reflective “disco ball” designed to function as a fake star and be visible from Earth without the use of a telescope. It’s called the Humanity Star, and it serves no purpose other than to sparkle in the night sky.
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