Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

RemoveDEBRIS Deployed From ISS To Experiment Ways To Battle Space Junk

The RemoveDEBRIS satellite has been set-off from the ISS on a task to examine the rising amount of debris orbiting the Earth.

The lovingly-named RemoveDebris was dispatched from the International Space Station at 7:30 a.m.

To help clean up the cluttered space around the Earth, a number of different companies, including Airbus, Surrey Satellite Technology, and NanoRacks, recently launched a cube-shaped satellite (onboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule) to the International Space Station. The mission was envisioned and put together by scientists and engineers at the University of Surrey which confirmed that they have contact with the spacecraft about two hours after deployment.

The satellite was designed, built and manufactured by a consortium of leading space companies and research institutions, led by the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, UK.

He continued, "RemoveDEBRIS is signifying some very thrilling active junk removal technologies that can have a vast influence on how we handle space junk moving forward".

"We expect to start with the experiments at some point in September".

That drag sail is especially important - it's the final tool that RemoveDEBRIS will use since it will allow the satellite to fall back to Earth, but it will also be important for showing how a satellite can be safely deorbited so it won't add to the clutter. The technology will use a set of 2D cameras and a 3D lidar technology to track a second cubesat as it floats away from the main satellite. "We all are thrilled to observe the outcomes of the experiments and the influence this initiative might have in the forthcoming years". "That's because we want to capture a high-definition video of each experiment, and to have a nice video, you need to wait for the spacecraft to be in the right position and to have the right illumination".

The Britain-built satellite testing possible solutions to clean up space junk is soon to begin experiments in orbit, the UK Space Agency said.

In December, RemoveDebris will test vision-based navigation technology developed by Airbus in Toulouse, France.

"The sail produces a significant amount of drag so that the spacecraft slows down and its orbit decays much faster than it would without the sail", said Aglietti.

Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency's robotic handyman aboard the International Space Station (ISS), can be seen at the right. The spacecraft is expected to de-orbit in about 10 weeks. It will also fire a small harpoon at a target plate to see if the technology can accurately work in the weightless environment. For the third, it will attempt to grab a decoy piece of space junk with a harpoon.

If the experiment is successful, technologies used in RemoveDEBRIS may be included in other missions in the near future, - said the Professor, Guglielmo, Aglietti.

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