How Huffing and Puffing Could Remove Space Junk
by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 05 April 2012 Time: 04:29 PM ET
A Space Debris Elimination (SpaDE) initiative would make
use of blasts of air from within Earth's atmosphere to take out orbiting
CREDIT: Raytheon BBN Technologies
The problem of menacing space junk has spurred all sorts of ideas to deal with it, from garbage scows and huge nets to laser blasts and debris-snagging Nerf balls.
Now scientists are considering a huff-and-puff approach to remove debris from orbit by firing focused pulses of atmospheric gases into the path of targeted space trash.
That's the idea behind SpaDE, a Space Debris Elimination initiative put forward by Daniel Gregory of Raytheon BBN Technologies in Virginia. Vertical bursts of air produced within Earth's atmosphere can either be directed at orbiting riffraff to change its trajectory or cause drag on the clutter to hasten its re-entry.
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