In video games it’s fun to shoot a space ship and watch it shatter into smithereens. In real life it must be even more fun, which I’m sure is why the Chinese government and the American government have each done it. Robert Simpson, a graduate student at the University of Cardiff, made a cool Google Earth display that tracks all (well, zillions, anyway) of the shattered pieces of the Fengyun 1C satellite that the Chinese shot down in January 2007. The pieces are still in orbit, cluttering things in a most dangerous way for any astronaut who dares venture into space. I hope Simpson also makes a display to track the pulverized bits of what was the American satellite.
UPDATE JUNE 11, 2008: Investigator Simpson writes:
I?d like to point out that I did, as the author suggests, create a similar file for the US spy satellite that was shot down. However the satellite was in a lower orbit and there are currently only 12 trackable fragments remaining at time of writing, so you don?t see much.