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
- Committee Leaders Question Biden Administration’s Efforts to Address Space Debris Issueson November 29, 2021 at 2:28 pm
Wash., ranking member and chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with Sens. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., ranking member and chair of ...
- U.S. Space Force Wants More Sensors to Track Orbital Debrison November 29, 2021 at 10:28 am
Russia's test this month of a direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) weapon--a collision that generated more than 1,500 pieces of trackable debris, has ...
- Space debris: More storm clouds ahead in orbit, experts say - Space.comon November 29, 2021 at 5:38 am
OK, we have probably banged the space debris drum enough recently. But this article has the best visuals we have seen anywhere.
- Solar Orbiter risks damage as it flies past Earth’s blanket of space debrison November 26, 2021 at 8:23 am
The Solar Orbiter could crash into space debris as it flies around Earth this weekend. The spacecraft is flying past as it heads towards for its main work exploring the Sun. At its nearest, it will be ...
- London tech fund Seraphim takes $12.5 million stake in pioneer cleaning up space junkon November 25, 2021 at 4:16 am
Space tech fund Seraphim has taken a $12.5 million stake in a satellite servicing group which is developing technology to extend the life-span of satellites orbiting the Earth. The aim is to cut down ...
- Space debris: More storm clouds ahead in orbit, experts sayon November 24, 2021 at 4:06 am
But the impact doubtless created many more pieces of space debris too tiny to detect from the ground. Who knows how much detritus from the Russian anti-satellite (ASAT) test is actually floating ...
- Op-ed: Need something more to worry about? Here comes space junk.on November 22, 2021 at 3:00 am
We need a multilateral agreement, perhaps even a binding treaty, on antisatellite weapons. We ignore the problem at our peril.
- Space Debris Could Create Problems for Satellite Interneton November 19, 2021 at 3:11 pm
The amount of floating junk in space is increasing. The pieces of debris may pose issues for companies like SpaceX, Amazon and Boeing, all of which plan to launch new satellites for broadband ...
- Dangerous Space Debris Litters Earth's Orbit And Wozniak's Privateer Will Study Its Impacton November 18, 2021 at 6:43 am
Wozniak startup Privateer wants to try and head off Kessler Syndrome by studying and classifying space debris.
via Bing News