Cubesail - A Vacuum Cleaner For Space


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While Space research is exciting and crucial to our future well-being, there is a serious and growing concern about the amount of debris we leave behind, every time we launch something - be it a rocket, satellite or space station.

Scientists estimate that there is currently 5,500 tons of junk floating around our skies and the number is increasing by an alarming 5% a year. They are therefore concerned that if something is not done soon, we may have a major crises - one that will impact not only astronauts, but also, our satellite signals.

Now a team of British scientists may have come up with a novel idea that may at least rid the orbit of the larger, more dangerous debris.

Cubesail, developed by researchers at the University of Surrey, is a 5X5 meter sheet of plastic, which will be attached to future missions and hopefully prove to be an easy and cheap way to drag to Earth, some of the dead satellites and rockets that are floating around in Space.

Inspired by Solarsail, (a concept space shuttle being designed to work using the energy of the sun), Cubesail uses air resistance, to slow down its motion.

Since the scientists are able to track large debris quite well, the kite-like contraption could also be launched using a robot, which would 'dock' nearby, allowing it to vacuum the debris out of harm's way. Cubesail is scheduled to be launched in space trials in 2011 - We sure hope it works!

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  • Rexover 9 years
    Great idea. Though, I have a question, how is it going to clean up space? It's flat. Also we're cleaning up space, what about our Earth?
    • mmmmmmalmost 11 years
      so kool
      • Lilaabout 12 years
        That could really help the environment.
      • Jigsover 12 years
        eeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 1 more burden cleaning the HOUSE is a trouble, then how will we clean the SPACE ru mad or what?
        • patalmost 13 years
          oh wow so cool
          • bobalmost 13 years
            • madison porteralmost 13 years
              what if the vacuum cleaner swoops up the planets
              • billy bob joealmost 13 years
                vaccum for space!!!???? absurd
                • leon n almost 13 years
                  cool I'm use this story for my current affers
                  • gadealmost 13 years
                    i am picking this for my science current event.!!!!