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As early as October 1957, the man-made satellite named Sputnik was launched for the first time. With the launch, man-made debris began to accumulate in space.
Now researchers from the University of Utah in the United States say that space is full of so much garbage today, we may have to use magnet technology to push it to form a Saturn-like ring around our own home earth!
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), there are 170 million floating space debris debris-including natural meteoroids, debris from man-made objects, and abandoned satellites-some of which are large enough (10 cm) to even hinder orbital missions and space flight.
Space debris and its dangers
Is space debris as harmful as the pollution that exists on our planet? Yes, for astronauts and space missions!
Space junk classified as a type of pollution has increased dramatically by approximately 7,500 metric tons in the past few decades. It poses a serious threat to the safety of astronauts, the International Space Station and hundreds of functional satellites orbiting the earth.
Interestingly, the original space junk consisted of a pile of copper needles sent into space by the US military in 1963. The U.S. military has detected weak points in the communication signal and is worried that the ionosphere will be further weakened, which makes radio communication possible on a global scale. Therefore, for safety reasons, the U.S. military sends millions of copper needles into space—— Called the Space Needle Project or the West Ford Project-as an alternative to the ionosphere to reflect radio signals.
The increasing debris may pose a major threat to spacecraft and even spacecraft carrying humans. Some fragments may harm or even kill the astronauts! On November 15, the seven astronauts of the International Space Station had to seek shelter in their transport spacecraft because a piece of garbage was about to crash at a speed close to the speed of light. These fragments are believed to be part of the disintegration of the satellite.
Magnets help because carbon adds to the dilemma
The earth's atmosphere can clean debris naturally. It pulls man-made floating debris of space junk downwards into its thick lower atmosphere, and eventually burns out within a few years. However, the ever-increasing carbon concentration has led to a decrease in the density of our planet’s upper atmosphere, which may mitigate this effect.
Although there is no simple solution to address the growing carbon emissions, recent research aims to clear this mess by rotating magnets and creating magnetic fields so that they can manage space objects even if they are not magnetic.
In an experiment, the team moved a copper ball on a plastic raft in a water tank. When the magnet is placed near the ball, it can not only move it, but also rotate it. Scientists suggest using this precise method to make robots that move garbage to the decay orbit of the earth and form a Saturn-like ring around the earth.
Jake Abbott, a professor of robotics at the University of Utah, said: “The earth is about to have its own halo.” “They will only be made of garbage,” he added. In addition to the not-so-cool ring, this approach promises to provide a new and innovative way to protect global space assets.
The results of the study are published in the journal Nature and can be accessed here.
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