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Author Topic: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris  (Read 1283 times)

Offline Dave Thacker

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Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« on: 06/08/2013 03:16:32 »
I am aware there is a lot of debris in space.  Pieces, parts and other rubbish left over from other space vehicles, launch vehicles, satellites and etc..  The problem has gotten so bad that we now keep track of much of these objects in order to protect our desirable objects in orbit.

Have there been any attempts to clean up the cloud of debris orbiting earth?

Could we use a targeted laser to impart force on an object? (either by pushing it or perhaps gassing off it's surface to create a puff of braking energy) 

Could doing so slow an object down enough to cause the orbit to decay and eventually burn up the offending artifact in earth's atmosphere?

A segment devoted to all the theories (nutty or otherwise) would be interesting.

Dave



 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #1 on: 06/08/2013 17:21:17 »
Most of it burns up and break down into small pieces before hitting the ground, but it is possible building materials. And it cost bringing them up into space.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #2 on: 06/08/2013 21:05:35 »
The Chinese, apparently, with the bright idea of testing an anti-satellite missile created a cloud of space debris.  Eventually over the next century or so it should mostly fall back to Earth and burn up. 

Most modern satellites have a end-of-life plan which includes either atmospheric re-entry, or movement to a graveyard orbit beyond the geosynchronous orbit.  Anything beyond the geosynchronous orbit should decay to a higher orbit and should be relatively safe, although still having stuff bump into each other might not be good.

My thoughts are that eventually space resources could be valuable for building stuff like a permanent space station / space port, or perhaps as fuel for ion/plasma engines.  However, it is doubtful that it will be economical to collect things like lost gloves floating in space.  Perhaps one could build an ion powered spaceship that could collect space debris, and then use it as fuel in an ion/plasma engine to move to the next piece and pick it up and destroy it.
 

Offline Dave Thacker

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #3 on: 09/08/2013 01:54:02 »
Space debris is moving pretty fast, you'd only be able to collect what was in your same orbit.   I'm interested in if there would be technology to force the orbit to decay faster in order to dispose of it as it burns up on re-entry.  It's interesting to learn that satellites are designed to decay orbit up or down in order to eliminate them as trash as they age and fall out of usefulness.

Dave
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #4 on: 09/08/2013 11:56:14 »
Sometimes an active Sun causes the outer atmosphere to expand, creating more friction on the satellites, and causing them to fall out of orbit more quickly.
But this mostly affects satellites in low Earth orbit. We will need other methods to deal with satellite debris in higher orbits.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #5 on: 10/08/2013 03:52:34 »
I would think that everything in a single round orbit would be moving more or less the same speed.  If one adds elliptical orbits, then the speeds might vary somewhat, but the more eccentric the orbit, the more likely that the objects would graze the atmosphere.

Aerogel has been used in a project to collect comet debris.  One could probably design an aerogel collector to pick up odd small bits of near earth orbital objects.  Nuts, Bolts, & etc.
 

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Re: Reach Out And Touch Space Debris
« Reply #5 on: 10/08/2013 03:52:34 »

 

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