Home > Lifestyle > Features
Wednesday January 22, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday January 22, 2014 MYT 7:29:25 AM
JAPANESE space scientists are set to try out a tether they hope will help pull junk out of orbit around Earth, clearing up tonnes of planetary clutter.
Researchers at The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have developed what they called an electrodynamic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium.
The idea is that one end of the strip will be attached to one of the thousands of dead satellites or bits of rocket that are jamming up space and endangering working equipment.
The electricity generated by the tether as it swings through the Earth’s magnetic field is expected to have a slowing effect on the space junk, which should, scientists say, pull it into a lower and lower orbit.
Eventually the detritus will enter the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up harmlessly long before it has a chance to crash to the planet’s surface.
“The experiment is specifically designed to contribute to developing a space debris cleaning method,” said Masahiro Nohmi, associate professor at Kagawa University, on Thursday.
Nohmi said a satellite developed by the university is expected to be launched into space on Feb 28, with the tether aboard.
“We have two main objectives in the trial next month,” he said. “First, to extend a 300m (1,000ft) tether in orbit and secondly to observe the transfer of electricity.”
The actual reeling in of orbiting rubbish will be the objective of future experiments, he said. A spokesman for the agency said it also plans to conduct its own trial on a tether in 2015.
More than 20,000 bits of cast-off equipment, including old satellites, pieces of rocket and other fragments, are uselessly orbiting the Earth in a band 800-1,400km (500-900 miles) from the surface of the planet at terrific speed.
Their presence causes problems for space scientists who have to try to prevent them colliding with functioning gear because of the huge damage they can cause. – AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Science Technology, space junk, electrodynamic tether, Japan
Fair to make science fun
Penang Tamil schools take part in science fair
Ribbits in disguise: ‘Transformer’ frog found in Ecuador
Staging a science show
Bionic ants may become tomorrow’s factory workers
‘Memory exercise keeps my mind active’
Home-cooked dishes, a heritage to be proud of
High living in the great outdoors
Exploring our roots via various lenses
Home-cooked dishes, quaint decor among attractions for returning patrons at Nyonya restaurant
How to manage your project cashflow
China mulls forcing Tencent, Alibaba to offer rivals' online payment services
Beverage firm to give out 50,000 cups of popular isotonic drink
China's Qiu equals Louganis record
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)