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Tractor beam, scientists’ new idea to clean up space

Tractor beam, scientists’ new idea to clean up space

Space trash is a growing problem for space exploration and monitoring. To remedy this, American scientists are working on a device capable of moving objects in orbit without touching them, like the tractor beam in Star Trek.

Tractor beam fantasy technology which allows the spacecraft to remotely control the motion of other objects through a beam of gravitons. He has appeared in several series and franchise films Star Trekwhere it is used pull, pick up, or push back enemy or friendly ships.

the Researchers at the University of Colorado In Boulder inspired by this concept to design an electron beam-based system. The principle is simple: the maintenance ship sends a beam of electrons onto the space debris, creating a negative charge in the debris and a positive charge in the ship. The two charges then attract each other electrically, creating a kind of default rope between the two objects.

The device thus makes it possible to move the debris without coming into contact with it, which is It avoids the risk of collision or damage. It can be used to transport debris to a lower orbit, where it disintegrates in Earth’s atmosphere.

Scientists tested The prototype is in the vacuum chamber which simulates the conditions of space. They are able to manipulate objects at a distance of 15 to 30 meters. According to their calculations, it will take about two to three months Moving an object weighing several tons At a distance of 300 km.

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Hanspeter Schaub, director of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, compared the device to a tractor beam from a Star Trek, while admitting that it was nowhere near as strong. “We create an attractive or repulsive electrostatic forceexplained in press release.

The researchers’ goal is to help maintain geosynchronous orbit (GEO), a region of space in which satellites can remain in a geostationary position. This area is highly sought after Because it allows for optimal communication and feedback. But it’s also full of space debris, which poses a danger to working satellites. “The geosynchronous orbit is the Bel Air of space.Schwab said.

NASA has also emphasized the urgency of the space trash problem A report published in March. The US space agency felt that the most feasible solution is Gently move the debris rather than completely removing it from orbit.