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Home > Rassegna Stampa > A possible solution to the space debris problem?

A possible solution to the space debris problem?

di Redazione FGB [1], 6 Aprile 2010

The problem of space debris [2] and the danger it poses to modern space missions [3] has been well documented and last year were also addressed on this site. This week several newspapers including The Guardian UK [4] have carried the story of a group of Surrey University (UK) based scientists that have unveiled what they hope could be the answer to the problem of the constant accumulation of orbiting space debris, a miniature nano-satellite about the size of a shoe box that contains a 25 metre sail.

Once attached to a piece of space debris the sail would open and slow the object down enough for it to re enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up. The inventors also hope that in the future all satellites will include this piece of technology so that when they are no longer needed they could be destroyed in as cleaner way as possible.

The BBC also carried the story [5] and their website includes an audio interview with Dr Vaios Lappas, one of the sail's inventors, in which he explains the project. Dr Lappas states that the cost of adding this instrument to new sattelites should not be restrictive, as the product will be simple, small, lightweight and relatively inexpensive. He does say however that the mechanical problems involved in unfolding something of that size in a hostile environment are not simple to overcome and the product will require testing.

His stated aim is to make space exploration sustainable by making sure that the debris problem does not worsen, and the project leaders hope that international law will soon oblige manufacturers to provide some tool for the destruction of their new spacecraft before putting them into orbit. The following step would then be to try and bring down the already existing abandoned pieces by attaching the device to them as they orbit the Earth.

Testing of the product will begin next year.

(photo: the ort cloud - our solar system's debris field [6] - by Zen from Flickr)

Mostra/Nascondi i link citati nell'articolo

Link citati nell'articolo:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] /en/focus/2009/02/satellite_traffic_problems.html
  3. 3] /it/segnalazioni/2009/03/space_station_briefly_evacuate_1.html
  4. 4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/26/space-sail-orbit-debris
  5. 5] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8590103.stm
  6. 6] http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen/3296552196/
CC Creative Commons - some rights reserved.
cc - photo by Zen from Flickr

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