Japanese researchers working to build wooden satellites

Japanese researchers are creating illustration wooden satellites for an article titled Because We Have Space Trash Problem

The image: Sumitomo Forestry

Swimming around the Earth is a group of satellites. Cool for GPS, not so good for weather mood monitoring and internet-space junk. This is why Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University are teaming up to build the world’s first wooden satellites by 2023.

You would think that metal satellites could burn on re-entry, but as it turns out, it is not so easy. Takao Doi, an astronaut and professor at Kyoto University, said, “We are very concerned about the fact that all satellites that re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles that have been in the upper atmosphere for many years Will keep swimming. ” BBC When speaking about the project. “Eventually it will affect the Earth’s environment.”

However, wood Would like Fully burning – or perhaps scattering – dangerous debris upon re-entry without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere. according to this Nikkei AsiaAnother reason researchers are experimenting with wood is that it does not block electromagnetic waves or the Earth’s own magnetic field. This means that wooden satellites can be easily constructed, as components like antennas can be placed inside the satellite itself.

For the wood type, Sumitomo is keeping mum forestry. The company only told the BBC it was an “R&D” secret, but it would be resistant to temperature changes, sunlight and extreme weather conditions. Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University also said that they will also study the feasibility of building wooden structures in space through March 2024.

For now, Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University are aiming to create a “proof of concept” and research tree development and how wood materials behave in space. The next step, according to Doi, is to create an engineering model for the satellite, followed by a flight model. But even though wooden satellites do not become a thing, it is possible that whatever wood has been developed can be used in more extreme environments on Earth.

according to World Economic ForumThere are currently about 6,000 satellites in orbit, 60% of which are actually bad. Meanwhile, 990 satellites are projected to be launched every year for the next decade. WEF also notes that there are More than half a million pieces of space waste Currently larger than marble floating around the earth and 20,000 pieces of debris Which are bigger than softball. These pieces of garbage are not static. They are really moving up to speed 17,500 mphThe speed needed to stay in orbit and not fall back to Earth. according to this NASA, More space junk presents an increased risk of colliding with all types of spacecraft, including the International Space Station, shuttles, and any other type of ship that can carry humans. (Actually, regular NASA and Russian flight controllers Practice maneuvers To protect the ISS from space junk.) Debris is not specifically required to cause damage — even paint flicks have been shown to damage the windows of the Space Shuttle.

The problem of space clutter is only getting worse, as both Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon’s Project Kuiper Race to launch thousands of satellites In class to provide low cost internet. Meanwhile, astronomers also have expressed concern These satellite constellations could potentially be Hinder their ability To observe the universe. It’s not clear how much wood satellites would reduce the problem, but hey, it would be better to stick more metal junk from there.


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