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Infographic: Satellite tests space junk retrieval methods

  • Published at 05:13 pm September 30th, 2018
This Nasa image released on September 20, 2018 shows the NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite. The International Space Station serves as humanity's orbital research platform, conducting a variety of experiments and research projects while in orbit around the planet AFP

A luggage-sized satellite deployed from the International Space Station, called RemoveDEBRIS, is endeavouring to capture and make safe space junk using several different experimental techniques. A satellite launched from the International Space Station has successfully deployed a net to capture space debris more than 300km above the Earth. In coming months, it will undertake two further experiments geared towards catching space junk, before deploying a dragsail to pull it into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up safely.

The RemoveDEBRIS mission is testing a range of technologies designed to declutter space from more than 500,000 items of debris put there during the last 60 years of human space exploration. The ever-increasing amount of space junk is causing real issues for today’s launches as debris can travel up to 28,000 km/h – fast enough for a relatively small item to damage a satellite or spacecraft.

The mission comprises a main satellite that deploys two CubeSats (artificial debris targets) to demonstrate some of its onboard technologies:

• Net Experiment and CubeSat

• Vision-Based Navigation and CubeSat

• Harpoon and Deployable Target

• Dragsail

The mission will run until the end of 2019