Debris in orbit varies from millions of millimetre-sized particles to thousands of much larger objects like defunct satellites and rocket parts. As such the damage debris can cause varies from a gradual degradation of satellite parts over time to immediate and total destruction.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has experienced decades of constant, minor bombardment from small debris objects, but collisions between entire satellites have also taken place, creating thousands of debris fragments.
Debris objects travel at about 10 km/s, meaning a collision with just 1cm fragment can create the same amount of energy as a small car crashing at 40 km/h!
Find out more about the damage done by debris in the joint ESA-UN podcast that narrates this infographic .