'Empty trash bag': An object is orbiting Earth in a very bizarre way

NASA says there are around 500,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth.
NASA says there are around 500,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth. Photo credit: NASA.

A bizarre object is orbiting the earth, and scientists can't say exactly what it might be.

First spotted by the Hawaiian Haleakala Observatory, the object has been tracked making an "absurd eclipse" of the planet, dipping as close as 600km from the surface, then tracking back out to around 538,261km away, reports Live Science.

It has been labelled an 'empty trash bag', due to its likeness to the movement of a plastic bag caught in the wind.

The Northolt Branch Observatories in London said the object is a piece of material left over from a rocket launch, most likely a piece of metallic foil.

It said it measured several metres in width, but weighed less than a kilogram.

An 'empty trash bag' object is classified when a piece of space junk is large enough to be spotted from earth and very light.

The Haleakala Observatory said this object was not a concern to the planet, and is likely to burn up if it enters Earth's atmosphere.

There are many 'empty trash bag' objects in space, and NASA has mapped the trajectory of thousands of the pieces it is observing.

NASA says there are currently about 500,000 individual pieces of junk orbiting the planet.

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