Space Junk: Spaceships With Plasma Beams To Burn Up Space Debris

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It might sound like a SciFi movie, but some researcher indeed came up with an innovative method to get rid of space junk. They thought to build up spaceships with plasma beams to burn up space debris surrounding the Earth.

Space junk has slowly but steadily become a problem for the world’s space agencies. Since the first human-made satellite, Sputnik 1, went into the Earth’s orbit, space debris started to accumulate. Mostly, these residues represent pieces of satellites and space shuttle. While there are some solutions under development to tackle this problem, none of them is 100% flawless, so the research in this regard continues.

Now, the scientists from the Tohoku University in Sendai City, Japan, and their colleagues at the Australian National University, came up with a new solution that involves plasma beams to push space junk into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn it up.

Spaceships With Plasma Beams To Burn Up Space Junk

“If the debris removal can be performed by a single high-power propulsion system, it will be of significant use for future space activity,” said Associate Professor Kazunori Takahashi, Tohoku University, Japan.

The solution to employ plasma beams to push space junk into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn it up is based on two beams shot by a satellite. One of the rays has the purpose of keeping the spaceship in position, while other is directing the junk toward Earth’s atmosphere.

And indeed the researchers are on the right track as their lab trials proved their theory correct. According to the lab trials in this regard, the researchers observed that a helicon plasma thruster could indeed remove space junk when used in a single propulsion system.

“The helicon plasma thruster is an electrodeless system, which allows it to undertake long operations performed at a high power level. This discovery is considerably different to existing solutions and will make a substantial contribution to future sustainable human activity in space,” added Takahashi.


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