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Quote of the day

When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. 

 

Peter Diamandis

How to catch a derelict satellite

RATE THIS! +37
Posted in Science on 23rd Feb, 2014 12:59 AM by AlexMuller

Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup, which threaten working missions with catastrophic collision. Even a 1 cm nut could hit with the force of a hand grenade. Such items are also time bombs:they risk exploding due to leftover fuel or partially charged batteries heated up by orbital sunlight.

 

The resulting debris clouds would make these vital orbits much more hazardous and expensive to use, and follow-on collisions may eventually trigger a chain reaction of breakups. The only way to control the debris population across key low orbits is to remove large items such as derelict satellites and launcher upper stages.

 
e.DeOrbit is designed to target debris items in well-trafficked polar orbits, between 800 km to 1000 km altitude. At around 1600 kg, e.DeOrbit will be launched on ESA’s Vega rocket.
 
The first technical challenge the mission will face is to capture a massive, drifting object left in an uncertain state, which may well be tumbling rapidly. Sophisticated imaging sensors and advanced autonomous control will be essential, first to assess its condition and then approach it.
 
Making rendezvous and then steady stationkeeping with the target is hard enough but then comes the really difficult part: how to secure it safely ahead of steering the combined satellite and salvage craft down for a controlled burn-up in the atmosphere?

Tags: spaceorbitspace debrisspace junksatelliteESAe.DeOrbit

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-23
+3
This mission to clean space junk looks inevitable but the challenge is enormous. I hope that this is a promising start and can be developed into a successful technology
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-23
+2
They are considering several options and this is good. One of them, throw-nets or tentacles-clamping mechanism or robotic arms, could work well!
2 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-23
+0
I am not sure about what they’re going to do with the junk after they’ve captured it- they will need to work out something and hopefully make it useful Reply
Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-23
+3
I agree that something must be done to deal with the estimated 100 million bits of man made space junk circling the planet - there are many ideas and some action is needed now
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-02-23
+0
Yes, dangerous. The cloud of space junk circling the planet poses a real threat to the hundreds of satellites in orbit. Any one of those chunks could start a chain reaction that could take out Earth’s entire communications system. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-05-07
+0
That's a wise answer to a tricky qutoiesn Reply


 

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