Unfortunately, there is a very large accumulation of space debris in the Solar System, largely around the high Earth orbit of our planet.
As of 2013, there are estimated to be over 170 million debris less than 1 cm in size, about 670,000 ranging from 1 to 10 cm, and some 29,000 larger debris. While much of this space garbage is stuck in Earth’s orbit, it poses a threat to rockets, satellites, and solar panels.
A bigger threat is, of course, posed by objects like asteroids and comets, which are believed to have caused the last mass extinction event.
The protection offered by Jupiter is theorized to be what’s helped life on Earth develop and thrive, far protected from the threats in the outer Solar System.
Above, an artistic rendering of what it would look like if Jupiter were as close to the Earth as the Moon is.
However, not everybody agrees with the “Jupiter as a shield” theory, and the planet might even have a harmful impact on life on Earth.
Studies over the past few years indicate that Jupiter and Saturn may actually have played a totally opposite role than the shield theory predicts, stating that the giant planets attract more objects and send them hurtling towards the inner Solar System.
But even this theory doesn’t necessarily mean Jupiter plays a detrimental role in Earth’s development. While dangerous, spacial objects like comets may deliver exotic materials that enhance life on Earth.
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