Cleaning up Earth's orbit: A Swiss satellite tackles space debris

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Sam I Am, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. Sam I Am

    Sam I Am Unfriendly and Aloof!

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    The Earth’s orbit is full of all kinds of floating debris; a growing crowd of abandoned satellites, spent rocket stages, bits of broken spacecraft, and fragments from collisions are rocketing around the planet at breathtaking speeds. NASA keeps close tabs on at least 16,000 of these objects that are larger than 10 cm in diameter. When an operational spacecraft such as a satellite collides with one of them, serious, costly damage can result; often the satellite is complete destroyed. And the collision itself then generates thousands more fragments, further exacerbating the problem.

    “It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” says Claude Nicollier, astronaut and EPFL professor. To move beyond mere rhetoric and take immediate action to get this stuff out of orbit, the Swiss Space Center at EPFL is launching CleanSpace One, a project to build the first prototype in a family of “de-orbiting” satellites.

    The project developers have chosen a symbolic target for the initial CleanSpace One launch: either Switzerland’s first orbiting object, the Swisscube picosatellite which was put in orbit in 2009, or its cousin TIsat, launched in July 2010.

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  2. SaltwaterServr

    SaltwaterServr Blank Paper Offends Me

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    I was bored/procrastinating the other day and thinking about how NASA used the aerogel to capture particles of space dust in that tennis racket-looking configuration a few years ago. The price is probably cost-prohibitive, but using a thicker version of the aerogel in a much larger geo-synchronous orbit might be able to clear portions of the orbital plane by X square meters at a time. Secondarily, you could send up a system that motored about to intersect the potential impact pieces if you're able to model the trajectories ahead of time.
  3. rkell87

    rkell87 Well-Known Member

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    I've often wondered when we are going to start taking on massive space projects. I think it rains fossil fuels on one of Saturn's moons and it is probably not too far off from a time we try to take advantage, once we figure a way to bring back more than it takes to put something in space. I'm waiting on richard branson to try and get gold and platinum from that one asteroid.

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