December 12, 2016

"Space isn’t so empty these days."

bloomberg: Earth’s orbit is cluttered with more than half a million bits of debris, mostly rocket and satellite remnants that can wreck anything in their flight path. By Chris Cooper and Kiyotaka Matsuda

'A 106-year-old Japanese fishing net maker may have a solution. Nitto Seimo Co. is working with Japan’s space agency to develop a mesh material to tether and drag bus-size pieces of space junk into the atmosphere for incineration. Scientists will get their first indication of whether the metallic line will work when it’s tested in orbit next month, said project chief Koichi Inoue, an associate principal researcher at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

'The experiment is part of an international cleanup effort planning to safeguard astronauts and about $900 billion worth of space stations, satellites and other infrastructure relied on for telecommunications, weather forecasting, Earth-monitoring and navigation. With debris traveling at up to 17,500 miles an hour, the impact of even a marble-size projectile can cause catastrophic damage as portrayed in the Academy Award-winning movie Gravity.'

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