Tracking Spinning Space Junk

Space junk is a big problem, and scientists all over the world are working on solutions (see this recent article Australians To Zap Space Junk Ala Arthur C. Clarke for one example).

But now, MIT boffins have used DARPA funding to create an algorithm that will help the space junk collectors of the future pursue and capture each randomly spinning fragment.


(MIT effort to track spinning space junk)

The algorithm is intended to allow those in space to see how a piece of debris, or one day something as big as a comet, is spinning in space.

Being able to track its movements accurately will allow those who are going to remove it from space to be able to do so safely.

Alvar Saenz-Otero, from MIT, explained the importance of being able to predict the movements: “There are thousands of pieces of broken satellites in space. If you were to send a supermassive spacecraft up there, yes, you could collect all of those, but it would cost lots of money.

“But if you send a small spacecraft, and you try to dock to a small, tumbling thing, you also are going to start tumbling. So you need to observe that thing that you know nothing about so you can grab it and control it.”

The MIT space junk algorithm was deployed using MIT's own SPHERES, which are basketball-sized free-flying satellites inspired by Star Wars seeker remotes (used by Luke Skywalker for light saber practice).

Science fiction writers and anime creators have busily attacked the space junk problem in their own way. Fans may also recall Planetes, an anime series published by Makoto Yakimura in Japan starting in 1999. The series follows a team of debris cleaners who clear space junk from flight paths.


Planetes cover art

Probably the earliest sf treatment of the idea is in the 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise; Arthur C. Clarke uses Operation Cleanup to make sure that low earth orbit is clear of debris for the newly constructed space elevator.

Via Factor-Tech.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/13/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children
'...thought had been given to its programming.'

Google Now Expects Chips To Design Themselves
'What lay down there? Energy, tubes and pipes, wiring, transformers, self-contained machinery...'

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun'

3D Printed Glass Uses Stereolithography Techniques
'All that with glass...'

Science Fiction Helps Young Readers Build Resiliency
'Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world.'

I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'

Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'

AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'

E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.