The Earth is currently surrounded by debris launched into space over several decades. This space junk can collide with satellites and not only cause damage to spacecraft but also result in further debris being created.
To preserve a secure space environment, the active removal or de-orbiting of space debris is an emergent technological challenge. If remedial action is not taken in the near future it will be difficult to sustain human space activities. To overcome this issue, several methods for the removal and de-orbiting of debris have been proposed so far; classified as either contact (e.g., robotic arm, tether net, electrodynamic tether) or contactless methods (e.g., laser, ion beam shepherd), with the contactless methods proving to be more secure.
The ion beam shepherd contactless method uses a plasma beam ejected from the satellite to impart a force to the debris thereby decelerating it, which results in it falling to a lower altitude, re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up naturally. However, ejecting the plasma beam toward the debris accelerates the satellite in the opposite direction, which makes it difficult to maintain a consistent distance between debris and the satellite.
To safely and effectively remove debris, two propulsion systems have to be mounted on the satellite to eject bi-directional plasma beams (Figure 1). This interferes with a satellite system integration requiring the reduction of a satellite’s weight and size.
“If the debris removal can be performed by a single high-power propulsion system, it will be of significant use for future space activity,” said Associate Professor Kazunori Takahashi from Tohoku University in Japan, who is leading research on new technology to remove space debris in collaboration with colleagues at the Australian National University.
The Japanese and Australian research group has demonstrated that a helicon plasma thruster can yield the space debris removal operation using a single propulsion system (Figure 2). In the laboratory experiment, the bi-directional ejection of plasma plumes from the single plasma thruster was precisely controlled with a magnetic field and gas injection; then the decelerating force imparted to an object simulating debris was measured whilst maintaining the zero-net force to the thruster (and satellite). The system, having the single plasma thruster, can be operational in three operational modes: acceleration of the satellite; deceleration of the satellite; and debris removal.
“The helicon plasma thruster is an electrodeless system, which allows it to undertake long operations performed at a high-power level.” says Takahashi, “This discovery is considerably different to existing solutions and will make a substantial contribution to future sustainable human activity in space.”
The Latest on: Space debris
via Google News
The Latest on: Space debris
- Winning ideas for new space transport services on December 18, 2018 at 2:50 am
Imagine moving satellites to higher orbits, collecting space debris, and dedicated launches for small satellites. These are the winning entries of ESA’s call for ideas on new commercial space transpor... […]
- Despite Concerns, Space Junk Continues to Clutter Earth Orbit on December 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm
Humans have a tendency to litter wherever we go. Whether it’s the local park, a music festival, or Mt. Everest, we’re just not good at cleaning up after ourselves. And space is no exception. […]
- Astroscale Knows How to Clean Up Space... in Technical Cooperation with ESA Regarding Space Debris Removal on December 14, 2018 at 9:16 am
Keeping space free from debris and the potential for dangerous collisions has been addressed by Astroscale UK Ltd. (“Astroscale”), part of Astroscale Pte Ltd, which has properly impressed European Spa... […]
- Global Space Robotics Market is Estimated to be USD 2.88 Billion in 2018 and is Projected to Reach USD 4.36 Billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 8.64% on December 14, 2018 at 5:52 am
For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/54dmbt/global_space?w=5 Research and Markets also offers Custom Research services providing focused, comprehens... […]
- Space station astronauts complete nearly eight-hour spacewalk to investigate mystery hole on December 13, 2018 at 12:55 pm
Pressure quickly returned to normal aboard the space station, and the patch job ... sample of the the thermal insulation and debris shield on the hull. They also collected images and video to ... […]
- UCF Research Flies Aboard 1st Virgin Galactic Space Flight on December 13, 2018 at 11:40 am
The flying debris could contaminate equipment and create safety concerns ... It launched from Mojave Air and Space Port, in Mojave, California. “It’s been an amazing honor to be out here representing ... […]
- Space odyssey on December 13, 2018 at 12:58 am
Some in space-related fields have described it as “space junk,” “graffiti” or “a disingenuous gimmick.” Chris Lintott, Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University, told the popular science blog IFL... […]
- Russian cosmonauts stabbed a spaceship with a knife to locate a mysterious hole at the International Space Station on December 12, 2018 at 1:22 pm
Some initial guesses about the hole's origin suggested a small micrometeoroid or piece of space debris had struck the Soyuz. But the story took a wild turn after NASA shared pictures showing what look... […]
- Watch a Russian Spacewalk That Aims to Solve a Space Station Mystery on December 11, 2018 at 7:11 am
At first, space experts speculated that the spacecraft had been punctured by a micrometeoroid — a high-speed speck of rock or debris. A few days later, Russian officials came to a different, startling ... […]
via Bing News