NanoTerminator Prevents Annoying Space Debris Build-Up
The nanoTerminator, recently released by TUI (Tethers Unlimited International), could help to prevent a rapidly growing problem in space - human-made debris from rockets and satellites. Although space is large (the volume of the known universe is about 1.9 x 10(33) cubic light years), space junk is a problem because it is concentrated right where we want to go - within a few hundred miles of the Earth's surface. Collisions with working spacecraft have already happened.
(NASA' actual space debris tracking)
These pieces of space debris range in size from flecks of paint and insulation to whole rocket stages and dead satellites. The greatest concentration of objects is found in the area between 550 miles and 625 miles above the Earth, above the orbits of the International Space Station and most shuttle flights. The US Space Surveillance Network tracks over 13,000 objects larger than ten centimeters.
The nanoTerminator™ is just 55 mm high and masses about 56 grams. It contains a 100-meter long space-survivable conducting tether and a simple spring-based
deployment system. It can be integrated into a nanosat either externally or internally with an appropriate aperture for ejection. The module is designed to fit perfectly within the cylindrical ejection post of Ecliptic’s RocketPod CubeSat Plus.
(nanoTerminator on Earth and deployed in space)
When the satellite reaches the end of its operational phase, a release mechanism deploys the tether. Gravity gradient forces will orient the tether along the local vertical; the conducting tether will drag against the geomagnetic field, rapidly lowering the orbit of the nanosatellite until it burns up in the upper atmosphere.
Science fiction authors have thought about this for a long time. Arthur C. Clarke wrote about Operation Cleanup, required before the space elevator in his 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise could be built. Read more about the Clarke connection (and more about how tethers work) in an earlier story about the Terminator Tether - EDT Solution To Space Debris.
Makoto Yukimura began publishing Planetes in Japan in 1999; the first graphic novel form was published in 2000. Planetes follows the story of a team of debris cleaners charged with clearing space junk from space flight paths.
Planetes cover art
The journal Science just published a new study about space debris; it starts with the simplifying assumption that no rocket bodies or spacecraft will be launched for the next two hundred years. Based on the data, it looks like new fragments from collisions will replace the population of objects that fall out of orbit and back to Earth. Beyond 2055, fragments from new collisions will actually cause the debris population to grow. We may need both nanoTerminators and space debris teams to clean up this problem.
Read Space Junk Cleanup and Space debris a growing problem; thanks to Fred Kiesche for writing in with the story and manga references.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/25/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Shimuzu Luna Ring Solar Power Project
'This was really free power... Power carried across millions of miles on Addison's tight-beam principle.'- Clifford Simak, 1941.
Robot Kirobo Talks With Astronauts Aboard ISS
Robots now converse in space. With humans.
NASA's LADEE Enters Lunar Orbit
'... dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.' - Hal Clement, 1956.
Nuclear Interceptors Designed For Planetary Protection
See NASA's concept for a nuclear interceptor.
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.
Space Replay - Art Or Rover?
What is Space Replay? That would be telling.
CUPID Intercept Drone Like Niven's Copseye
'Copseyes floated overhead... each a sonic stunner... they were there to enforce the law...'
DIY Taser-Proof Clothing
'His suit-shield sucked in the energy and discharged it...'
Is Privacy Too Expensive?
'It was not a large office, but it was quite spy-proof and quite undetectably so.'
Navy Deploys LaWS First Ship-Borne Laser
When you hear that music, you know you're in for adventure - and predictions of possible technological futures!
Myo Armband Controller Just 149 Bucks
'Actuators touch the tendons in your right wrist...'
Can Gut Bacteria Make You Smarter?
'Vergil had trained the lymphocytes in the past six months to interact as much as possible with each other and with their environment...'
Shimuzu Luna Ring Solar Power Project
'This was really free power... Power carried across millions of miles on Addison's tight-beam principle.'
AllSee Low Power Gesture Recognition
'It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course...'
Must Breaking Up Be Hard To Do?
'Whoever was placed inside the apparatus instantaneously experienced all the charms, lures, wiles, winks and witchery of all the fairer sex in the Universe at once.'
PillCam Colon Now Approved By FDA
'You're going to take a picture of my insides?'
RYNO To Heinlein - Your Tumblebug Is Ready!
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'
3D Printing Your Winter Reality
'It makes drawings in the air following drawings it scans with photo-cells...'
Roboroach Now Shipping!
'A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain.'
MeCam Selfie Nano Drone Like Karen Traviss' Bee Cam
'He set his camera to follow him, and it hovered behind him like a large tame bee.'
AeroLife Inhalable Food Powder
'Now shall the brutal murdering of fellow animals and brother vegetables forever stop...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories