We are all for bunging things into space but what happens to the bits that we leave out of our doggy bag?
Scientists have been warning for a while about the growing problem of space debris and it’s effect in putting spacecraft and astronauts at risk.
Current estimates claim there are about half a million pieces of man-made junk orbiting the Earth, a few obsolete satellites here, a ton of spent rocket boosters there and nuts and bolts all over the shop.
And it’s not just that the (s)place looks untidy that’s got our OCD riled, but, a collision with even the smallest item can cause serious damage, and, in turn, generate even more debris.
In 2016 a loose piece of paint was blamed with causing a crack in an International Space Station’s window.
Remove debris? With RemoveDebris.
Getting ready to launch is a mission that will hopefully commence hoovering behind the proverbial space sofa.
The RemoveDebris mission is being developed at the Surrey Space Centre in University of Surrey to test different methods to cleaning up space junk.
The idea is to throw up a craft around the size of a washing machine and attempt to snare a small satellite with a net. While there they will also test using a harpoon as an effective junk fishing device.
Dr Jason Forshaw is the project manager of the RemoveDebris team, and he, said: “RemoveDebris will be one of the world’s first missions in this area, demonstrating technologies that have never been performed in space before.”
The Kessler syndrome
A European satellite called Envisat, which is the size of a double decker bus, suddenly stopped working in 2012 and since then has been circling the Earth, threatening everything in its path.
If this Routemaster were to hit by something, it would then release a load more smaller parts which, in turn, could lead to more collisions – a cascade effect known as the Kessler syndrome. The fear is that space could eventually become more congested than a cheap electric goods store on Black Friday.
Time for Captain Mrs Mop to step up to the plate.