Scientists are now on the verge of developing an ultra-thin spacecraft that can successfully remove and destroy space debris or wastes which potentially threaten spacecraft and satellites as well as the astronauts. NASA has given the second round of funding for the design, and it believes that the spacecraft will be an efficient and inexpensive way of removing trash and debris from Earth’s space.
The ultra-thin spacecraft, called the Brane Craft is a flat quadrilateral type carpet, which is flexible and is less than half the thickness of a human hair. It is designed to be resilient and also its microprocessors well as other digital electronics are built in such a way that if one part gets affected or damaged, then it will have no impact on the overall functioning of the spacecraft. For example, if one solar cell gets destroyed by a micrometeorite, then only that cell will stop working.
Siegfried Janson, principal investigator and a senior scientist at Aerospace Corporation, said that the ultra-thin probe should have to be bullet proof because it is only 10-microns thick and its main structural sheath can be easily penetrated by a 5-micron diameter particle. These brain crafts are said to be powered by a set of ultra-thin solar cells and also by the help of propellant to ensure its movement around the Earth’s orbit. This revolutionary space cleaning carpet is the brain child of California-based Aerospace Corporation, and they claim that this new device is built to sustain and has multiple back-ups.
After reaching close to one of the estimated 520,000 bits of detectable human-made space debris or junk, the brain craft will wrap itself around the potential space junk and both the objects will be directed towards Earth’s atmosphere and once they enter our atmosphere they will be burnt up due to the intense heat along with pressure of re-entry. NASA informed that it tracks down about 20,000 pieces of orbital trash revolving around the earth and although very small in size, their super fast speed can cause damage to satellites as well as spacecraft which could worry the astronauts.
Janson added that, although the ultra-thin- spacecraft is on experimental stage, the real world testing will cost around several million dollars. But if successfully deployed, these Brane Crafts can do a tremendous job in removing space debris, thus making our space clean.
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 a 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.