Thursday , July 29 2021

This is OSCAR: a small spacecraft that will clean the garbage from space

The space is full of rubbish, but this small ship can change that. Sputnik tells you how OSCAR works.

Space and Science News Space has announced that scientists are developing a "cleaning cube" called OSCAR (Retaining and Removing Outdated Spacecraft in Spanish: Capture and Elimination of Outdated Ships). OSCAR is designed to capture and remove debris from orbit using nets and anchorages to carry on board.

The cleaning bucket will do this relatively autonomously, with little guidance from the land controllers.

"We tell OSCAR what to do and then we have to trust it," said Kurt Anderson, Professor of Mechanical, Space and Nuclear Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Spatial garbage is a big problem and it's getting worse. According to the estimates of the European Space Agency, some 129 million fragments of debris buzz around the Earth at that time, approximately 34,000 of which are at least four inches (10 centimeters) wide.

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According to famous astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, there are almost 7,200 tons of space junk. Almost half of the sites are the remains of American missiles and probes.

These objects move so fast, for example at 17,500 km / h (28,200 km / h) in low Earth orbit, so even the smallest ones can damage the satellite.

"The number of observed debris is growing faster now than the speed at which we actually place more objects in space." This is an indication that [las] Earlier stages of Kessler's syndrome may be before us, warns Anderson.

It is called Kessler's syndrome for the discovery in 1978 of a NASA scientist, Donald Kessler, who warned that increasing the concentration of "rubbish" in space could lead to a one-off impact to produce a chain reaction. so that all satellites are destroyed.

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Researchers are also studying ways to eliminate some of the most dangerous waste that saturate the Earth's orbit. This is where OSCAR comes into play.

The spacecraft is a 3U bucket, meaning it measures approximately 12 inches in length by four inches wide and four inches tall (30 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches).

Each OSCAR ship will be able to capture and remove four pieces of debris, Anderson said. When this work is done, the cleaning bins will be excessive within five years.

"There is an informal agreement that has been in force for several years, so people who place space objects there should practice good citizenship," Anderson said in a statement. "We foresee a day when we can send a full flock or an Oscar squad to work together in search of large collections of debris."

The team aims to test OSCAR on the ground sometime in 2019. A test in space will continue at some point if everything goes as planned.

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