I am having a moment where I am utterly excited about something and simultaneously terrified of where that excitement might lead.
The image above is incredible for many reasons. It was the first photo taken by Neil Armstrong during the first moon walk, just over 45 years ago. That in itself is pretty amazing.
Even more incredible: This historic photo features a white object in the lower left corner. No joke: it’s a space garbage bag.
I knew that astronauts vented human waste and other fluids out into space, and was aware of the occasional unintentionally dropped spare glove, tool, or camera. I’d read that sometimes astronauts (particularly cosmonauts) hand-push objects they want to destroy into low orbits for convenient incineration upon reentry to the atmosphere.
But there’s something about the banal iconography of the garbage bag, and that it features so prominently in this moment of technical triumph, that has sent me down a wonderful rabbithole of frenetic research, trying to figure out the basic preliminary contours of a potential chapter on space litter — something I am beginning to see as a separate category from other orbiting space junk.
Thus the being simultaneously terrified. History dissertations are already overblown as it is. And, as one of my mentors says, a good dissertation is a done dissertation.
But space litter. SPACE LITTER.
- Me: Heyyyy baby *hugs cat*
- Cat: *paws me*
- Cat: *bites me*
- Cat: *kicks me*
- Cat: *scratches me*
- Cat: *runs away immediately*
- Me: *looks down the bleeding hands*
- Me: Cats are
- Me: the best