The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How difficult would it be to design a satellite that cleans up space debris?  (Read 3010 times)

Offline Airthumbs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 958
  • Personal Text
    • View Profile
Aaron Thomas asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Dear Chris,

Thanks for the great show, I am always listening to your podcasts which I think are fantastic.

Space

Q. 2.0 How difficult would it be to design a satellite that cleans up space debris?

Q 2.1 Would it be beneficial to send space debris to the moon for later use?

Q 2.2 Why is it that all Lunar base designs seem to be on the surface of the moon and not below the surface where surely there would be protection from cosmic radiation?

I know you must get literally hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, I hope my questions are of interest and I look forward to listening out for your reply.

Sincerely

Aaron Thomas

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 14/11/2010 22:30:03 by _system »


 

Offline Airthumbs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 958
  • Personal Text
    • View Profile
I think all of the above would be expensive but possible.
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Something that cleans up space could really be called a vacuum cleaner!
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
Something that cleans up space could really be called a vacuum cleaner!
Nice one! ;D
 

Offline imatfaal

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2787
  • rouge moderator
    • View Profile
I would also think that many of the agencies that put satellites into space would not want another agency cleaning the debris up; although there is a lot of cooperation in space exploration I believe there are still a lot of secrets. Group A might be happy to let their secret technology drift until the orbit decays; but be very concerned that group B might clean up their satellite and happen to recycle the technology.
 

SteveFish

  • Guest
2.0 A design is not difficult, but a design that would be affordable would be very difficult. Every piece of junk is in a different orbit and the fuel cost to reach each lost wrench or dead satellite would be very large. Somebody may come up with something clever. What I would like to know is how much of a problem this actually is. Most low earth orbits, where most of the junk is, decay fairly quickly.

2.1 This would be very difficult. In addition to the expense of actually collecting the debris, more energy would be required to direct it to the moon, and if you actually wanted to use something for more than raw material, it would have to be landed gently, which requires much more energy.

2.2 The reason is that space programs appear to not be interested in anything beyond the short term. A mission, not a long term project. If there were a good economic reason (read short term profit) to set up a permanent presence on the moon, somebody would do it and possibly do it right. To put a habitat under the surface would require some heavy earth moving equipment= expensive. It might be cheaper to just provide a high enough rate of pay that there would always be many who would just accept the risk.
« Last Edit: 26/11/2010 16:19:58 by SteveFish »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Bearing in mind that a dangerous piece of space debris could be as small as a flake of paint or a grain of sand it would only be possible to collect the larger lumps and I expect that may have to be done.  my guess it will be essential for spacecraft and spaecsuits to be protected from the smaller debris impacts
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11999
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Don't touch my space collection.
But as it is I happen to have some choice items for sale.
If interested I'm available, taking my cue from Ikea I have to say.

Only self-service though.

==

Get involved, parts for sale.
Soyuz five? Sure I got it, well, some, of it.
Build your own, impress your neighbor.



« Last Edit: 04/12/2010 07:09:44 by yor_on »
 

Offline Airthumbs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 958
  • Personal Text
    • View Profile
If NASA can go to a Comet and collect particles travelling at about 21,960 kilometers/hour using aerogel then I do not see why similar technology cannot be applied to collecting tiny bits of space debris at say half the impact speed or even less.

Also as a solution to the fuel problem is there a reason that a craft powered by solar sails could not be used and operated over a long term period to collect debris? (yes I know short term profit)!  >:(

What's wrong with just smashing this stuff into the surface of the moon, who cares about landing it gently!  :o

We are not going to make it as a species unless we get off this rock that we have wrecked, so digging a small hole to live in on the Moon seems like a good place to start, give me a shovel and a means and I would leave tommorow.  :P (and i would do it voluntarily as that's the way forward).



« Last Edit: 27/12/2010 01:03:34 by Aaron Thomas »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums