FEB 19, 2019 07:20 PM PST

Advances in Space Junk Cleanup Technology Could Change the World for the Better

It was only a few days ago that the British RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft tested the concept of a tethered harpoon as a means of space junk cleanup for the first time, and it was more successful than we ever could have hoped. But what does this mean for the future of space junk cleanup? A good question, but the answer is more complicated than one might think.

Although the harpoon-centric test was deemed successful, that doesn’t mean we’ll be mass-deploying space junk harpoons anytime soon. Cleaning up the uncountable bits of space junk that encircle our planet today will necessitate careful planning and something that’s much more efficient than a single-use space junk harpoon satellite like RemoveDEBRIS.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some space junk bits are much too small to capture with a harpoon or net. Many pieces of space junk are as tiny as nuts or bolts, and they’re traveling more than ten times faster than the speed of a bullet. Sadly, space junk fragments like these continue to multiply as more significant pieces of space junk collide in outer space.

Cleaning up space junk is critical if we want to ensure the long-term feasibility of space travel; this is because those fast-moving fragments pose severe risks to rockets and astronauts that aspire to leave Earth’s atmosphere to visit other worlds. Although the RemoveDEBRIS concept is nothing more than just a concept at the time of this writing, the success of these tests could one day contribute to an effective means of cleaning up space junk for good.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 02, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 02, 2019
International Space Station's 'Mystery Hole' was Made From the Inside
Just a couple weeks ago, Russian cosmonauts performed a spacewalk at the International Space Station to investigate the mysterious two-millimeter hole that...
JAN 07, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 07, 2019
It's Probably a Good Thing That Earth Only Has One Moon
Unlike many other planets in the solar system, Earth only has one natural satellite, universally called the ‘Moon.’ But have you ever stopped t...
JAN 15, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 15, 2019
Are You Prepared for This Weekend's Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse?
Nighttime sky gazers are in for a beautiful treat this weekend as the Moon prepares to put on a spectacular show. Beginning Sunday, January 20th at approxi...
JAN 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 22, 2019
NASA Wants Astronauts to Visit the Moon Again, And Here's How
It’s been a while since NASA sent astronauts to the Moon – more than four decades, in fact. But that doesn’t mean NASA doesn’t want...
FEB 26, 2019
Space & Astronomy
FEB 26, 2019
Is the Dyson Sphere Concept Humanly Possible to Achieve?
The Dyson Sphere is a concept envisioned by physicist Freeman Dyson (no affiliation with the vacuum company) in which humankind would develop some sort of...
MAR 11, 2019
Space & Astronomy
MAR 11, 2019
Blowing Up Hazardous Asteroids? Probably Not a Good Idea...
If you watch a lot of movies, then you’ve undoubtedly stumbled upon one about a fictitious ‘end of the world’ scenario involving a massiv...
Loading Comments...