It used to be called the final frontier - the great unknown only the most prized and powerful technology could conquer.
But now, as these images show, the space beyond our atmosphere has become yet one more place blighted by man-made litter, with potentially devastating results. Known as 'space junk', the detritus consists of derelict spacecraft and dead satellites floating around the earth's orbit.
The spectacular images, produced digitally by the European Space Operations Centre, show how far humans have cluttered outer space in the 51 years since Sputnik One became the first man-made object in space. The rubbish consists of all kinds of discarded parts - rocket casing, pieces of metal ejected during collisions, nuts and bolts, dropped tools - documented piece by piece by Nasa.
More pics here