British Satellite Successfully Removes Space Debris

Posted: Sep 23 2018, 3:05pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 23 2018, 3:12pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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British Satellite Successfully Removes Space Debris
Credit: Surrey Space Center

The technology could one day be used to capture tons of space debris orbiting around Earth.

A satellite called RemoveDebris has successfully caught a piece of space junk by using a net. This experiment is the first successful demonstration of a cleanup device in space and this technology could one day be used to remove tons of debris floating around Earth’s orbit.

The experiment was carried out last week, when RemoveDebris satellite released from space station successfully deployed a net in orbit and captured a piece of debris. The satellite is designed, built and manufactured by leading European space companies.

“We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of the net technology. While it might sound like a simple idea, the complexity of using a net in space to capture a piece of debris took many years of planning, engineering and coordination between the Surrey, Space Center, Airbus and our partners – but there is more work to be done. These are very exciting times for us all.” Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of the Surrey Space Center, said.

Space junk, also known as orbital debris, is a major concern for space agencies today. It is basically a collection of objects which no longer serve any useful purpose. There is an estimated 7,600 tons of space debris orbiting around Earth and it includes everything from defunct satellites to abandoned rockets to shards of solar panels. Space debris can travel at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour. At this speed, the debris orbiting the Earth could collide with functioning satellites and damage spacecraft. Even small bits of debris can lead to catastrophic collisions with orbiting satellites and disrupt communication systems on Earth.

As space agencies and private companies across the globe are experimenting with many revolutionary ideas for removing space debris, UK have developed RemoveDebris satellite. RemoveDebris weighs about 220 lbs, which makes it the largest satellite ever deployed from the International Space Station. Its purpose is to test the effectiveness of simple designs like nets and harpoons in cleaning up debris from orbit. RemoveDebris spacecraft will conduct many more experiments in coming days.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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