New Satellite Tech To Eradicate Space Debris Problem


Space junk is one of the biggest concerns for space agencies. The amount of dead satellite debris and other space junk looming around the Earth is huge. Scientists are proposing a new idea to deal with the massive space junk before it threatens Earth's surroundings.

New Satellite Tech To Reduce Space Debris


The disasters of space junk are many. It may lead to a chain reaction and could surround the Earth with destructive shrapnel. According to NASA, space debris in the low Earth orbit or LEO (roughly 2,000 km in altitude) can collide with an average speed of about 36,000 km/h.

NASA estimates there are about 500,000 marble-sized debris and more than a 100 million space junk the size of a millimeter around the Earth's lower orbit. Moreover, private space agencies like SpaceX, Amazon, Telesat, and others are building and launching satellites more than ever. Soon, there will be "megaconstellations" in the low Earth orbit and each will be composed of hundreds of miniature satellites.

New Satellite Tech To Deal With Space Junk

Researchers are suggesting new infrared cameras and gel-based rockets for the development of new satellites, which might help dodge such dangerous debris. Previous satellite research had noted the 'Whipple shields' to deal with miniature bits of space debris. The Whipple shields are a defense mechanism with a thin cover over the main wall of the spacecraft.

The Whipple shields break and disperse the colliding debris. The result is that the energy of the impact is spread over a larger area and makes it easier for the spacecraft to withstand it. But there is still a minor drawback as Whipple shields can withstand debris that is 0.4-inches wide or smaller, the researchers said.

The bigger sized space debris can be dealt with ground-based radar and telescopes that remotely track the movement. This further helps scientists predict the trajectories, who can guide the satellite's pathway to prevent a collision. But even this technique is limited, as NASA and the Department of Defense can't track objects smaller than 2-inches in size.

New Satellite Tech To Reduce Space Debris


New Satellite Tech To Dodge Space Debris

To deal with minute satellite debris, scientists have suggested an onboard thermal infrared camera to detect mid-size debris. But even the debris can be detected from miles away, the satellite would still have only seconds to dodge. Hence, scientists propose using rockets that use solid propellants, which can be activated in a fraction of a second.

To test the idea, scientists have suggested a cubesat, which is satellite based on cubes just about 4-inches wide. The cubesat will have three cubes with 16 solid-propellant thrusters a thermal infrared camera with a ceramic Whipple shield transparent to infrared rays. Since most solid-propellant rockets can be used just once, researchers have proposed using multiple thrusters. Hopefully, the new technique can help deal with the accumulating space debris.

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