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 |

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 ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...' - Robert Heinlein, 1951.

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.' - Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...' - Murray Leinster, 1953.

 

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

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'

Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'

OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'

Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Implants Melt In Your Brain, Not In Your Hands
Implant and forget - they melt in your brain, not in your hands.

Baby Boomers Will LOVE Autonomous Cars (Trust Me!)
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars....'

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

DIY Method To Summon Tesla With Amazon Echo
'Thomas focussed the violet beam of a hand flash on a plate...'

AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX...'

MIT's Second Skin Enhances Original Skin
'I must care, or I wouldn't live in this lying skin suit...'

CommU Robot Children Scare Me
'Is David malfunctioning?'

VelociRoACH Insect Robots Cooperate
'They wheeled and turned in macabre simultaneity...'

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.