WATCH: time-lapse video of space debris from 1957 to present

There are approximately 500,000 pieces of debris currently orbiting the planet

WATCH: time-lapse video of space debris from 1957 to present

via tharawat_magazine

Anyone who thought space-disaster movie Gravity was pure sci-fi is in for a wake-up call.

While it's been estimated that there are approximately 20,000 pieces of space debris the size of a football or bigger, travelling around the planet at around 17,500 mph, the problem is even bigger than that.

University Lecturer at the Royal Institution Stuart Grey, who created the video below, revealed that the known number of actual space debris is closer to half a million.

If even one of these pieces, right down to the tiniest fleck of paint, were to impact the International Space Station at high speeds, it could cause catastrophic amounts of damage.

There is currently a plan in motion to create and launch a device known as the e.DeOrbit which, once safely circumventing the planet, will release a large net that will scoop up as much debris as possible.

It will then change direction to enter the Earth's atmosphere, burning up both the debris and itself in the process.

Earlier this week, footage was filmed of a parts of a Russian rocket lighting up the night sky above Las Vegas as it burned upon re-entry.

Elon Musk's Space X company are currently attempting to prevent any further additions to the debris field by working towards creating rocket programs that will remain intact and entirely reusable.