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Cleaning Space Junk

Space exploration is a very important and interesting field. With satellites and other materials going to space every day there are many things up there which simply shouldn’t be there. Space landfill is becoming a big problem and one cannot ignore that as it will pose a serious threat to operational satellites and future satellites.

British engineer, Dr. Jaime Reed, has come up with an innovative way to clean this junk from space with the help of a space harpoon, measuring only 30cm in length.

The harpoon would be mounted onto a chaser satellite which would take the harpoon to 100m from the junk. The harpoon would be fired within close range and hook itself through the body of the junk satellite and then pull the junk towards the earth’s surface via a propulsion system.  It will burn in the atmosphere on it’s descent to earth.

This type of cleaning operation could pose a serious threat to space due to the explosion of the waste satellites fuel tanks, but this harpoon deals with the orbital junk safely. “We obviously don’t want to be the cause of that, so our harpoon has a crushable cylinder. It’s like a piston, and as soon as the harpoon hits the satellite wall, it rapidly decelerates, ensuring we don’t travel right through the spacecraft, puncturing the tanks.” said Dr Reed.

You may think space junk? Is it a big deal? It really is. With more than 50 years of space activity scientists have found that space has more than 22,000 junk objects floating around. These include old satellites and rocket parts which wander around the space. It is estimated that there are 50,000 particles of size between 1-10cm out there in space and a billion pieces of tiny particles floating unnecessarily.

Orbital junk poses a severe threat to revolving and stationary satellites which are the backbone of any nation’s communication. The particle size may be tiny but the impact is very large if they collide. A small tennis ball sized junk can cause devastation equal to 30 sticks of dynamite.

While this research is in its infancy, the cleaning of space junk is a necessary part of our future.

Article source :http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Harpoon-Space-Junk-Satellites-Astium-Jaime-Reed,18252.html


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