When satellites burn up in the atmosphere, pollutants are formed that can float around for many years. Scientists have found a solution: a satellite made of wood.
Inactive satellites are part of the cloud of debris that surrounds the earth. Of the approximately 6,000 specimens in orbit, the World Economic Forum estimates that half are inactive.
Today they try to have a protocol to get the scrap out of the way. After the satellites have served their purpose, they can either be sent into orbit outside the most remotely positioned units – or slowed down to burn up in the atmosphere.
A number of new space companies have pushed up prices for launches, and the interest in bringing technology into space is enormous. An example is Starlink. The satellite constellation in low orbit is intended to deliver internet connection to the entire planet, and the plan is for the network to be backed by 12,000 satellites.
Spacex projects are just one of many planned, and when the retired satellites one day burn up, they contribute to pollution in the atmosphere. Now Kyoto University, together with Sumitomo Forestry, will start working on a solution to reduce emissions upon entering the atmosphere – a satellite made of wood. The reports the BBC.
– We are really concerned about the fact that all satellites that re-enter the atmosphere burn up and create very small aluminum particles that will float around in the upper atmosphere for many years. Eventually, this will affect the Earth’s environment, says former astronaut Takao Doi, who is now a professor at Kyoto University.
The Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry has already started researching how wood behaves in space, and in collaboration with the university, it will initially experiment with different types of wood in the most extreme environments that can be obtained on earth. Then the technology for the satellite will be developed, followed by a prototype.