Today was trash day on the International Space Station, and as you might expect, it's not as simple as rolling a can out to the curb. Instead, a used resupply capsule was stuffed with 1.5 tons of trash and cut loose.
All that trash will burn up over the Pacific Ocean when the Cygnus supply craft, the "SS Deke Slayton II," re-enters Earth's orbit, which not only makes this the biggest incinerator in the world, but also reminds us that the world itself can also serve as an incinerator.
The craft's thrusters will be used to send it down into the atmosphere — so it won't be joining the increasingly dense cloud of space junk that orbits our planet.
"The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV," NASA says, somewhat disappointingly.
A robotic arm was used to release Cygnus from the ISS at 7:26 a.m. ET, NASA says, "while the space station was flying above Bolivia."
Carrying some 7,700 pounds of supplies and experiments, the Cygnus commercial resupply craft reached the space station in early December.