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Will ESA Deploy Nets to Capture Floating Space Junk?

posted: 03/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
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A net captures a derelict satellite in a simulation of ESA's new Clean Space Initiative.
ESA

Outer space is almost as polluted as Earth: there are an estimated 21,000 pieces of debris over 10cm currently in orbit.

The European Space Agency announced that its 2021 e.Deorbit mission will focus on removing space junk, such as derelict satellites and the upper stages of rockets, from increasingly crowded orbital space. The space agency is currently testing different methods for retrieving space junk in a zero-gravity environment, including something surprisingly primitive: weighted nets.

"The good news is they worked extremely well - so much so that the nets usually had to be cut away with a knife before we could shoot again," remarked ESA engineer Kjetil Wormnes.

Other debris removal methods currently under consideration include a robotic arm, a harpoon and an ion beam.

Click here for the full story from ESA

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