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[P]
Suicide satellites clean up orbit

By Alistair Cunningham in News
Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 04:53:47 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

The Daily Telegraph is carrying a story on efforts to clean up the rubbish floating in orbit. The latest developments are mini satellites that seek out debris with video cameras, latch on to them, and take them on a kamikazi trip into the earth's atmosphere. If only they could do the same for junk in my apartment.


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Suicide satellites clean up orbit | 32 comments (32 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
I still think that postings should ... (none / 0) (#10)
by Arkady on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 02:58:21 PM EST

Arkady voted 0 on this story.

I still think that postings should contain more discussion. See the meta-discussion posting in the queue, which has some comments on this. The big question for this one, I suppose, is whether this is a desirable solution. Wouldn't it be better to _recover_ the stuff floating around up there than to build and launch these expensive satellites just to self-destruct themselves?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


recover junk? (none / 0) (#29)
by feline on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 03:16:34 PM EST

'Wouldn't it be better to _recover_ the stuff...'

Why would you want to recover things such as bolts and old booster rockets?

And I don't think one-hundred thousand pounds is too terribly much to take an object like a broken off solar panel out of orbit so it can't ruin a four million dollar communications satellite.
------------------------------------------

'Hello sir, you don't look like someone who satisfies his wife.'
[ Parent ]

Re: recover junk? (none / 0) (#30)
by Arkady on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 03:32:21 PM EST

My thought was that, even if it cost more and I'm not certain it would, it might be better to collect all this stuff in a single place and see what can be reused or recycled. The policy of destroying it cannot be sustainable in the long-term, so it's better to _start_ with a recycling program than get used to destroying the material, not to mention using a self-destroying very expensive system to do it.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Sounds a bit expensive, unless they... (none / 0) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 03:05:44 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

Sounds a bit expensive, unless they've finally gotten cheap magnetic satellite launchers and I've been asleep. ;) I dunno, though, I'd rather see legitimate satellites having a force field. Then we'd have force field technology, and I could put one in my doorway so that breathable air can get through but my housemate can't. (He thinks that if my door's open, that's an open invitation for him to come in and talk and play with my stuff, when really I'm just trying to breathe.) Ooh, then I could wire it up with my ass chip so that it automatically turns off and on when I pass through, and then I don't have to worry about forgetting if it's on or not...

I like that idea!
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

The only problem with the concept i... (none / 0) (#3)
by Skippy on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 03:12:14 PM EST

Skippy voted 1 on this story.

The only problem with the concept is that most of the trash up there is VERY small. Paint chips, metal shavings, etc. Which one wouldn't think was much of a problem since it's so small, but remember f=mv. A paint chip moving at orbital speeds packs one HELL of a punch—enough to damage a fragile satellite. I guess my point is, how much is this going to help?
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

Just a small correction about the physics mentione (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by typo on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 07:21:50 AM EST

F = ma (F - force, m - mass, a - aceleration)

p = mv (p - linear momentum, m - mass, v - velocity)

[ Parent ]

Re: Just a small correction about the physics ment (none / 0) (#24)
by Skippy on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 10:06:10 AM EST

Doh! I knew that! No, really :-(
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]
COOL!!... i'm sure i used to go to ... (none / 0) (#18)
by hummer on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 03:26:04 PM EST

hummer voted 1 on this story.

COOL!!... i'm sure i used to go to slashdot for stories like this. Now all i hear about is bloody napster. Post It!

good or bad? (none / 0) (#32)
by feline on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 06:30:29 PM EST

'i'm sure i used to go to slashdot for stories like this. Now all i hear about is bloody napster. Post It!'

It seems all I used to hear about on k5 was napster, perhaps the tables are turning. Did you notice that this post was rather like the ones on slashdot, a link posted with a witty joke and just a teensy bit of insight?

And furthur, remember how we k5ers used to go to slashdot to pick up links, and then submit a longer, more thought out article on it? Slashdot seems to be picking up quite a few k5 stories and doing the same thing we used to do with them.

Just my observations
------------------------------------------

'Hello sir, you don't look like someone who satisfies his wife.'
[ Parent ]

Sounds neat. Not much in the write... (none / 0) (#8)
by warpeightbot on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 03:26:45 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

Sounds neat. Not much in the writeup, but WHO CARES if the link is interesting.... +1 for brevity, +1 interesting, +2, rounded down by Scoop....

How expensive! ... (1.00 / 1) (#1)
by hattig on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 04:11:08 PM EST

hattig voted 1 on this story.

How expensive!

How about the same thing, but instead of being kamikaze, just throwing the debris down at the atmosphere, and staying in orbit to get rid of more junk. I can just imagine it: We spent 10million dollars on a spacecraft that ent up into orbit and found a screwdriver, and then destroyed itself and the screwdriver.

Now if it got rid of several screwdrivers (and some legit communications satellites as well - oops) then it would be a better proposition...



Re: How expensive!... (none / 0) (#26)
by AArthur on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 01:00:52 PM EST

Polution in the atomosphere doesn't seem to be a pressing issue. Maybe I just don't know enough about it, but it seems that a few orbiting pieces of "junk" can't do much harm up there (although it could collide with a satelite). On earth, such money could be much better spent (like creating and cleaning up wilderness for parks, investing in more enviromentally friendly technologies, etc.)

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

It's a good idea but how well would... (none / 0) (#16)
by Dace on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 05:32:55 PM EST

Dace voted 1 on this story.

It's a good idea but how well would it deal with really small stuff of around bolt size? I would assume that it wouldn't be cost effective to remove every piece of small garbage this way. A better way to deal with the small stuff would be to have small autonomous craft and a central collection/refueling station. Just have them fly around and collect small bits of junk until they have a full load and then return to the collection/refueling station. Once a set limit is reached it could either propel the garbage load into the atmosphere or call for a garbage scow.
---
"When I was a kid computers were giant walk-in wardrobes served by a priesthood with punch cards."
- Arthur C. Clarke

'If only they could do the same for... (none / 0) (#12)
by feline on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 06:27:59 PM EST

feline voted 1 on this story.

'If only they could do the same for junk in my apartment.'

Do you really want robots running around your home and then ramming itself into your walls in an effort to destroy itself and other materials?
------------------------------------------

'Hello sir, you don't look like someone who satisfies his wife.'

humm kamikazi satelites. Someone gi... (none / 0) (#15)
by typo on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 07:26:28 PM EST

typo voted 1 on this story.

humm kamikazi satelites. Someone give me a joystick and a video uplinck connected to the satelites and lets play some Space Shoot Out (tm).

wouldn't it be cheaper to have an i... (none / 0) (#7)
by krogoth on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 08:05:27 PM EST

krogoth voted 1 on this story.

wouldn't it be cheaper to have an incinerator in the cleanup satelite, or just push the junk towards earth?
--
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
:wq

i bet someone's mentioned MLP ... c... (none / 0) (#2)
by Fish on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 09:46:09 PM EST

Fish voted -1 on this story.

i bet someone's mentioned MLP ... can someone tell me what it stands for???

Re: i bet someone's mentioned MLP ... c... (none / 0) (#31)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 06:29:13 PM EST

Mindless Link Propagation. I usually like MLP, but even I have limits.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Rounding down from 0.5... where's t... (none / 0) (#4)
by skim123 on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 10:21:49 PM EST

skim123 voted 0 on this story.

Rounding down from 0.5... where's the writeup?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


MLP... (none / 0) (#6)
by inspire on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 10:43:26 PM EST

inspire voted -1 on this story.

MLP
--
What is the helix?

Not much of a write up - but think ... (none / 0) (#9)
by tidepool on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 10:58:47 PM EST

tidepool voted 1 on this story.

Not much of a write up - but think of the implications of such a system.

"What, THAT company has a sattelite in space? Lets just push it into the atmosphere".

What happens if the things latch on to innocent sat's that companies run, or other governments? Egad...

Kinda interesting article, kinda un... (none / 0) (#11)
by PurpleBob on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 01:56:37 AM EST

PurpleBob voted 0 on this story.

Kinda interesting article, kinda uninteresting writeup... it all comes out to 0.

"new satellites are able to attach ... (none / 0) (#19)
by aint on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 02:35:58 AM EST

aint voted 1 on this story.

"new satellites are able to attach themselves to old satellites and other rubbish and propel them into a safe "graveyard" orbit where they will burn up."

it seems there would be a point where the satellite could deattach itself and go for another, anyone know why this isn't possible?

also, perhaps such systems will be integrated into potential space junk in the future.
-- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.

Cleanup when you're done (none / 0) (#22)
by Neuromancer on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 08:34:51 AM EST

You have to get rid of the satellite too. It will run out of propellant and die. If you didn't burn it up as well, it would become space junk...

[ Parent ]
You don't need propellant (none / 0) (#23)
by squigly on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 10:00:47 AM EST

All you need to do is find a way for the satellite to throw itself off the space junk (basically equip it with frogs legs). Assuming the angle is corrrect, and a powerful enough force can be applied, it could push the junk down into the atmosphere, while pushing itself onto another piece of junk.

Okay, I realise that this probably wouldn't be practical considering the mass of these would be quite small, and space junk tends to be large. Could be a possibility if we ever manage to lift larger equipment into space more cheaply.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
animated frogs (none / 0) (#25)
by aint on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 11:48:48 AM EST

i would love to see a flash animation of a space frog jumping around from junk to junk all the while directing its prey down towards the earth ;)
-- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.
[ Parent ]
Go Ahead Roger Wilco ;-)... (none / 0) (#14)
by fengor on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 03:32:58 AM EST

fengor voted 1 on this story.

Go Ahead Roger Wilco ;-)
hackers do it with bugs.

too short...... (none / 0) (#17)
by Xone on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 04:42:34 AM EST

Xone voted -1 on this story.

too short...

great so more crap in the ocean ins... (none / 0) (#13)
by martin on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 04:53:24 AM EST

martin voted 1 on this story.

great so more crap in the ocean instead :-)

Friction (1.00 / 1) (#21)
by Neuromancer on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 08:33:26 AM EST

The friction of passing into the atmosphere will cause the debris to incinerate. Gas will result, but most of that will go into space. That's why the space shuttle has all of that heat shielding.

[ Parent ]
These things could be used offensively (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by Kartoffel on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 01:57:42 PM EST

The Snap satellites sound very similar to the "smart rock" precursor to the "brilliant pebbles" concept which was part of the US Strategic Defence Initiative (star wars).

Snap can identify, rendezvous with, latch onto, and successfully deorbit any arbitrary object in low earth orbit. That capability is not nearly as advanced as being able to smash into the target at full speed. Rendezvous involves careful planning and guidance from the ground, and you get to go slowly and make course corrections as you get closer.

Snap currently presents a threat to any small-to-medium sized vehicle in low earth orbit. If a bad guy wanted to take down your satellite, all they'd have to do is use a Snap to push it into the atmosphere. The good guys' satellite would be toasted unless their ground control found out ahead of time to tried to evade the Snap. Even forcing the target satellite to take evasive action could be enough, if your goal was only to temporarily disrupt the target.

So the AI is good enough, (2.00 / 1) (#28)
by error 404 on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 03:07:52 PM EST

The Head of Diego Garcia voted Pi on this article

to risk both an expensive kamikaze and whatever bit of space debris on it knowing junk from good stuff.

Must have improved while I wasn't looking.

Now I guess I'll need a bumper sticker for my satellite like the one I used to have on my car:

This is NOT an Abandoned Space Station


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Suicide satellites clean up orbit | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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