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Keep outer space beautiful

Unfortunately, it might be too late. According to Federal and private aerospace experts (and today's Times), the junk we've been rocketing into orbit around the Earth since the space age began may be reaching a critical mass, greatly increasing chances that a speeding piece of debris will "smash a large spacecraft into hundreds of pieces and start a chain reaction, a slow cascade of collisions that would expand for centuries, spreading chaos through the heavens."

What kind of debris? Not just dead satellites of old and rocket boosters from long-ago launches, but a growing cloud of bits and pieces left over from years of Soviet and U.S. anti-satellite weapons testing from 1968 to 1986. (Recently, China got into the act, blowing one of its old satellites into at least 647 detectable pieces, and sparking an international diplomatic crisis.) Click here for a scary full-motion version of the graphic above, which is a representation of all currently trackable items in orbit around Earth.

If nothing is done, a kind of orbital crisis might ensue that is known as the Kessler Syndrome, after a former NASA official who hypothesized the scenario -- a staple of science fiction -- in which the space around Earth becomes so riddled with junk that launchings are almost impossible. Vehicles that entered space would quickly be destroyed. Is there a solution -- some cosmic vacuum that could wipe the space around Earth clean and allow us a fresh start? Not quite. Proposals include "robots that install rocket engines to send dead spacecraft careering back into the atmosphere, or ground-based lasers that could be used to zap debris." (Both sound prohibitively expensive, and a little silly. And do we really want millions of tons of space junk raining down on us, anyway?)

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Mister Rogers Is Now a Funko Pop! and It’s Such a Good Feeling, a Very Good Feeling
Amazon
Amazon

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood for fans of Mister Rogers, as Funko has announced that, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the kindest soul to ever grace a television screen will be honored with a series of Funko toys, some of them limited-edition versions.

The news broke at the New York Toy Fair, where the pop culture-loving toy company revealed a new Pop Funko! in Fred Rogers’s likeness—he’ll be holding onto the Neighborhood Trolley—plus a Mister Rogers Pop! keychain and a SuperCute Plush.

In addition to the standard Pop! figurine, there will also be a Funko Shop exclusive version, in which everyone’s favorite neighbor will be wearing a special blue sweater. Barnes & Noble will also carry its own special edition, which will see Fred wearing a red cardigan and holding a King Friday puppet instead of the Neighborhood Trolley.

 

Barnes & Noble's special edition Mister Rogers Funko Pop!
Funko

Mister Rogers’s seemingly endless supply of colored cardigans was an integral part of the show, and a sweet tribute to his mom (who knitted all of them). But don’t go running out to snatch up the whole collection just yet; Funko won’t release these sure-to-sell-out items until June 1, but you can pre-order your Pop! on Amazon right now.

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