With the advancement of technology, humans went to space and they have conducted thousands of space missions in past seven decades. Every mission leaves some waste in space that starts orbiting earth. According to reports, humans have heavily polluted space with millions of small chunks revolving around our planet.
In order to curb the increasing space pollution the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has launched a spacecraft that will cut down the space pollution. It was a successful launch and the rocket put the satellite into the planned orbit 15 minutes after the liftoff.
The spacecraft was made in collaboration with a 106-year-old fishing net company and contains a magnetic tether to move space chunk out of orbit. It is to be noticed that Nitto Seimo Co. is the same company that invented the knotless net machine within first 15 years journey.
“The tether uses our fishnet plaiting technology, but it was really tough to intertwine the very thin materials,” said company engineer Katsuya Suzuki.”The length of the tether this time is 700 meters (2,300 feet), but eventually it’s going to need to be 5,000 to 10,000 meters (16,400 to 32,800 feet) long to slow down the targeted space junk.”
The tether is made of thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium. Directly pulling the space debris can damage the equipment. Therefore, researchers will generate electricity with the help of tether as it swings through the Earth’s magnetic field which will slow down the space junk. The slowing space debris will move into the lower orbit and eventually will enter into Earth’s atmosphere and will get burnt due to atmospheric friction before touching the surface. Scientists explained that even if it manages to touch down the surface and it will be harmless as a major part of the chunk will get burnt in the atmosphere.
“If we are successful in this trial, the next step will be another test attaching one tip of the tether to a targeted object,” said a spokesperson from JAXA.
In order show how much space pollution we humans have created, Stuart Grey, a scientist and lecturer at the University College London, has made a video which compares the amount of space debris present in 1957 with space chunks in 2015. It was 1957 when Russians launched the Sputnik satellite and released first of the man-made chunk in space. Since then there has been tremendous increase in the numbers and now these numbers have grown so much that they are threatening space projects and more importantly mankind itself.
Every white dot in the video represents a space debris released during space missions. Agencies have started proposing ideas to clear up space chunk before things quickly get out of hand. Moreover, reusable rocket can significantly reduce the number as these satellites do not leave chunks behind.