Between the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and 2008, around 6,000 satellites have been launched into orbit. These computer-generated photos show all the junk orbiting Earth.
It's estimated that only 800 satellites are working. The debris also includes hundreds of bits of space shuttles that have exploded, broken off or been abandoned.
Eighty per cent of all space junk is around 1,200 miles above Earth or in low-Earth orbit (LEO). Spacecraft have to orbit at low altitude to avoid all the debris.
The view over the North Pole. Dead or inactive spacecraft and other objects range in size from the big (or about the size of a car) to the tiny (about the size of microscopic dust).
A view of the equator seen through a computer-animated image of space rubbish. The European Space Agency uses this database to get satellites in orbit undamaged.
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