The proliferation of space debris surrounding our planet isn't just a theoretical problem--flying extraterrestrial garbage can cause damage to satellites, manned and unmanned space missions, and even the International Space Station. So we've seen quite a few proposed solutions already, but this is one of the best: Japan's space agency is partnering with a leading Japanese fishing net company to create a high-tech space net to capture all that unwelcome detritus above us.
JAXA, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, is collaborating with Nitto Seimo Co, a fishing net manufacturer responsible for the first strong knot-less net, on a very special kind of net. This one will be made of super strong 1mm triple-layered threads, which when extended will span several kilometers of space. The net will be launched with a satellite, and when detached, will begin orbiting Earth, collecting the miscellaneous engine parts, particles, and abandoned satellites that litter that region.
Interestingly, the net is designed as a one-time-use tool. That's different from DARPA's proposed net strategy, which would employ hundreds of nets aimed at redirecting space debris into the atmosphere to be either burned up or land harmlessly in the South Pacific. But this Japanese net is much larger, intended to collect as much debris as possible, and then let the Earth's magnetic field slowly draw it closer and closer to the planet, at which point it (and all of the debris in its clutches) will combust in the atmosphere.
I'm assuming they'll have some way of controlling the net once it's launched, right? Otherwise they'll need to do some serious evasive maneuvers to keep the net from collecting active satellites.
-IMP ;) :)
Instead of destroying all that junk, why not collect it and reuse/recycle it in space. should be easy to make a smelter. Form extra shielding for space station, or portable shield for space walks.Same goes for old satilites why burn up a multi million dollar object when it can be cannibalized?
@inwolf41 I dont know why people keep brining this idea up. the idea of reusing space junk is CRAZY!!! do you have any idea how fast technology is made 100% USELESS. For example a few years ago the NSA decided to put up a new spy satalite grid of 5 satellites. by the time they got to number 5, number 1 was out of date and they launched a new one to replace that one. that was a span of about 5 years!!!! let me give you another example for your smelter idea. Take your desk top computer. The whole thing. Now put that in a smelter. now tell me how you are going to re-use ANY of that its going to be melted plastic and about 200 different elements all mixed together?!?!? Satellites are not made up of wood and iron. We cant just pick the nails up out fire after we done burning the house down. let me ask you another question. You are tasked with a mission. build the best fastest car in the world. Are you going to go to a junk yard to get started? no. you cant build a state of the art car out of older car parts. you have to design new EVERYTHING (for example the Bugatti Veron). Well every single satellite is basically just that. The best of the best at the moment it was built. we are not going to use old space parts. AND how are we going to get them back with out them burning up???? build them in space? we can hardly poop in space, building the most delicate advanced machine known to man... not going to happen.
Yeah inwolf I'm all for re-use of our trash but to do so in space would be more difficult and expensive then to make it here on earth and shoot it up there. Now you could bring it back to earth and re-use it here but then you would need a craft capable of not only withstanding re-entry but also navigating a re-entry burn. Again the cost doesn't add up. If you could create a pressurized processing station with gravity that was large enough this might be a bit more feasible but I don’t see that happening any time soon. But hey look on the bright side at least we are going to burn up this garbage in space with is more than i can say for what we do with our garbage her on earth.
I don't trust them. They're somehow use these nets on whales. ;)
I agree with you. Just because it isnt state of the art doesnt mean its useless. Technology from five or ten years ago taken apart polished up and maintained slightly, then put back together could make something thats new and functional. Maybe it isnt state of the art, but if you can afford state of the art, then you arent going to be using refuse. The idea is making less than top notch satalites very (realatively) cheap. It doesnt take gravity to do that either, or even really a pressurised environment.
Dont shoot down ideas you dont totally understand, because if they end up prooving themselves valuable, you just end up looking like a fool. Back in my day, people thought before they talked.
Because this isn't science fiction and melting down metal in space to throw onto a spacecraft for a shield is impractical and a lot more difficult than you apparently think it is, not to mention the additional mass added which would make a satallite or spacecraft harder to maneuver. I'm all for recycling, but there's a point where the effort significantly outweighs the benefit, man.
@Pixelator yeah. I can see it now. Aliens come to visit earth. They see our STATE of the ART satellite array. and they compare to cuba. who is stilling running BRAND NEW 1950s cars 60 years later.
I just wanna know how are we going to do this. do you think the NSA is going to let you cannibalize their TOP secret sat? nope. are they going to reuse it. Nope. they have all the money in the world. So is satcom going to let comsat use their satlites for parts and steal away their custimors.
Lets try it this way: The iphone is a super advanced peice of computing tech. It is sold and used primaarly in the USA. Do we build it in the USA. NOPE!!! we build it in China where it costs about 100 times less to make. So think of china like earth and america like space. Why would you go to space and make something that costs 100 times more than you could on earth.
I remember this same disscussion happening when there was an article about Russia making a machine that would push the space debris away from the earth.
If you read the comments on that page, you'll see that Im for the idea of reusing spacejunk. It irritates me that these space organizations dont even try the concept.
I don’t get it; they spend lots money and go thru great lengths to make sure their projects are sterile but when it is used up, they leave it, polluting up space.
Isn’t this a contradiction to their mission statements?
@wingartist you are ignorant to the fact that without sterilizing the articles sent into space that something as small and insignificant like a drop of water could turn a multimillion dollar science/tech project into a multimillion dollar piece of useless garbage. Also without all of that pollution(as you put it)great achievements in human understanding of sciences would be non existent. So I would say that the benefits outweighed the consequences.
I'm suprised that no one brought up the fact that a fishing company is going to put a net up, to try to catch debris that can normally punch holes through solid metals at the rate of speed it's traveling, not all "space junk" is moving at the same speeds or in the same direction.
Wiki "Space Debris" for a better look at what's actually out there and where.. as well as some interesting information on the subject. I don't see a big old net doing much good. But I could be wrong.
Regarding reusing the space junk - some of the best shields are made of gold. So I think the gold could be reused. But you'd need to return the items back to earth as opposed to harnessing up there. Possible though. This is also a great way to steal technology. It is discarded...so...why not snatch it up and see what other governments made.
Of the many plans to reduce space debris, I have yet to find one that DOESN'T involve letting them burn-up on re-entry. That "junk" contains a total of many tons of valuable resources, many of which are rare-earth-metals, and most of which are still usable. So why allow them to burn into nothing? And what about that sattilite Russia reportedly launched and never recovered, which is carrying multiple Thermmo-Nuclear warheads? THAT is definately NOT something we want to dispose of in that manner. The fallout caused by the detonation of the up-to-six nukes onboard at such an altitude would cover an area larger than the entire continent of Africa.
I find it kind of neat that one country is doing something that can benefit the planet as a whole. I think that all of our governments should band together do things just like this. Go japan for being awesome.