Satellites are pieces of equipment that fly high up in space around Earth. They send us our phone calls and pictures that show up on the computer; they show us where we are on the map (GPS); and they can study the stars and other stuff out in space. As you can see on this great webpage, there are more than a thousand of these crazy gadgets up in the sky, flying hundreds of miles over our heads. Some weigh just 2 pounds, like a stack of burgers; others are the size of a schoolbus flying through the air, and weigh as much as 22,000 pounds. And of those 1,200 satellites, more than half have been launched since 2006, since most satellites last only 5-10 years. The crowding is a problem, because if satellites crash into each other they break off parts that become floating “space junk” that hits other satellites…so let’s hope they’re all watching where they’re going.
Wee ones: What shapes can you see on this satellite shown here?
Little kids: Who’s older, you or a satellite launched 2 years after you were born? Bonus: If 2 satellites crash and one breaks up into 13 pieces while the other splits in half, how many pieces of space junk do we have?
Big kids: The granddaddy of the satellites up there now is Oscar 7, launched in 1974. How old is that one turning this year? Bonus: Our Earth is a ball about 8,000 miles wide. If a satellite is flying 1,500 miles over our heads, how far is it from the center of the earth?
Wee ones: Circles, squares, rectangles, and even an octagon (8-sided shape).
Little kids: You’re older! Bonus: 15 pieces.
Big kids: 40 years old. Bonus: 5,500 miles, since the center of the Earth is another 4,000 below our feet.