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NASA to clear space junk with gas puffs

Europe,United Kingdom,Science/Tech, Fri, 13 Apr 2012 IANS

London, April 13 (IANS) NASA hopes to sweep away more than half a million pieces of space junk, adrift in the skies, with a radical solution.

 

It is looking at new technology developed by University of Michigan, where 'pulses' of gas will be fired into the path of debris, increasing the 'drag' on orbiting junk and practically sucking them downwards.

 

 

Pieces of space junk travel at speeds up to eight km per second, fast enough to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. There's also a danger of 'cascading collisions', where space debris impact with one another creating more, smaller pieces of space junk.

 

 

Debris belts have already made many orbits unusable. The pulses themselves would leave no trace - and the new method also leaves no solid material in orbit, the Daily Mail reported.

 

 

The satellite will 'grab' lumps of orbiting debris and throw them back into Earth's atmosphere, where they will burn up on re-entry.

 

 

The proposed new system would be known as the Space Debris Elimination (SpaDE) system - and would aim to remove debris from orbit by firing focused pulses of atmospheric gases into the path of targeted debris.

 


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