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Scientists To Clean Up Space Junk With 'Fishing Net'

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by X-PASTER, Feb 3, 2011.


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    Feb 3, 2011
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    Scientists To Clean Up Space Junk With 'Fishing Net'


    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has paired up with a top fishing giant to launch a revolutionary net to catch space debris endangering space vehicles.

    The proposed Space Debris Removal System is currently being developed and could be launched into space within two years.

    Experts say that tens of millions of debris particles in space from unused space exploration equipment to larger remnants of derelict satellites and rocket stages cause extensive damage to operational satellites and spacecraft.

    William Jeffs, NASA spokesman for the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at the Johnson Space Center in Houston discussed the extent of the problem. He told Yahoo! News: "Space debris is a big concern because spacecraft and The International Space Station carrying humans onboard have to be maneuvered to avoid hitting debris."

    JAXA and Nitto Seimo, the company behind the net have been working together on the system for six years and hope to counter the issue by loading a thin several-kilometre-long metal net, known as an 'electrodynamic tether' onto a satellite and launching it into space.

    Once the satellite is in orbit, the net which is made of three silver-coloured threads one millimetre in diameter and tied together with fibres as thin as human hair- can be attached to a piece of space debris using the satellite's robot arm.

    The tether would then be detached along with the tip of the arm and as the net orbits Earth, it would become charged with electricity.

    Eventually interaction with the Earth's magnetic field would create a force that gradually draws the net back towards Earth which would re-enter our atmosphere and burn up inside.

    Nitto Seimo's technical division has been trialling different net material for years. Technician Koji Ozaki told a Japanese news site: "Unlike fishing nets, which are made of materials such as nylon, it is difficult to mesh nets made of hard metal. Some unusable failures have torn into shreds, but eventually we were able to make a usable tether."

    Dr William Jeffs responded to Japan's efforts. He said: "Initiatives to reduce space debris are underway in both the US and the international space community. But thus far no proposed solution to reduce the amount of space debris has been proven to be both technologically feasible and financially viable. We will just have to wait and see."