Astronomers know how dangerous space junk can be for rockets and spacecrafts, so they needed a quick solution. Therefore, a team of British researchers took the first-ever initiative to clean this space debris and developed a cleaning satellite. The mission, called RemoveDEBRIS, has just left the ISS and will soon reach the orbit.
Researchers needed a quick solution against space junk
Space junk is one of the most serious problems of astronomers. The amount of debris has got so high that it has now formed a compact layer around our planet, threatening satellites and other spacecrafts. Therefore, the British researchers decided to find a solution as soon as possible.
This way, they built a space junk remover called RemoveDEBRIS. Weighing around 100 kg, the spacecraft will travel on Earth’s orbit and hunt junk pieces. With the help of a harpoon and a net, it will attempt to catch the debris. However, this isn’t the only purpose of the cleaning satellite. RemoveDEBRIS is also equipped with advanced radars and cameras that will keep an eye on the flying space junk.
The satellite will pick up space debris while also making observations
This debris has become such a serious problem due to its speed. The isolated pieces of junk travel so quickly on the orbit that they pose a huge threat on all the spacecrafts nearby. In fact, researchers fear they might be dangerous for the ISS as well, so an intervention was more than necessary.
At the moment, the space junk satellite only runs as an experiment. However, once it’s done with all the observations, it will drag all the debris it caught outside Earth’s orbit. Instead from displacing it in outer space, the satellite will dump it in Earth’s atmosphere. Since the junk pieces aren’t so big, they will catch fire as soon as they enter the atmosphere.
The radars and cameras aboard RemoveDEBRIS are meant to measure the speed of the space junk and assess its potential dangers. This mission isn’t only about picking up space trash, but also about testing this equipment. If the results are good, researchers are going to incorporate the same technology in other spacecrafts.
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