General News

Scientist warns that Earth could develop rings like Saturn’s, but made of space junk

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 10:48 GMT

Millions of orbital debris currently exist that pose a threat to human spaceflight and robotic missions.

Jake Abbott, a robotics professor at the University of Utah, said in a recent interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that space debris orbiting our planet could increase to the point of forming rings similar in appearance to those of Saturn.

“Earth is on the way to having its own rings. They’ll just be made of trash“Abbott declared.

"It will be like developing a gas station in space": An ambitious project seeks to make rocket fuel from space junk

Space debris, also known as ‘debris’, is a type of anthropogenic pollution and is becoming an increasingly serious problem due to the increase in space tourism, space missions and the launch of new satellites.

NASA currently tracks more than 27,000 pieces of orbital debris, although in the near-Earth space environment there are many more debris too small to be traced, but large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions.

“Since both debris and spacecraft travel at extremely high speeds (approximately 25,000 km / h in low Earth orbit), the impact of even a small fragment of orbital debris with a spacecraft could create big problems,” notes the agency, what do you estimate there is Half a million of rubble the size of a marble and around other 100 million of about one millimeter.

Magnets to the rescue

For the past few years, astronomers and engineers have been looking for a way to solve this problem. Abbott himself is the co-author of a study published last month in the journal Nature, in which he and his team offer a novel solution: the use of magnets.

Not all space junk is metallic, so using magnets to move it around and eventually collect it would seem impossible. However, Abbot explains that non-magnetic orbital debris can conduct electricity and, when exposed to the action of magnets, they would begin to rotate and activate so-called eddy currents, an electrical phenomenon that, in turn, would generate its own magnetic field.

According to the expert, this would allow the controlled use of force and torque to slow down the objects, move them and collect them.

Basically, we have created the world’s first tractor beam“said Abbott, who concludes that building and launching it” is now just a matter of engineering. “

About the author

Donna Miller

Donna is one of the oldest contributors of Gruntstuff and she has a unique perspective with regards to Science which makes her write news from the Science field. She aims to empower the readers with the delivery of apt factual analysis of various news pieces from Science. Donna has 3.5 years of experience in news-based content creation, and she is now an expert at it. She loves journalism, and that is the reason, she moved from a web content writer to a News writer, and she is loving it. She is a fun-loving woman who has very good connections with every team member. She makes the working environment cheerful which improves the team’s work productivity.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment